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Football, Men

Date19 – 24 October 1908
StatusOlympic
LocationWhite City Stadium, London
Participants72 from 5 countries
FormatSingle-elimination tournament.

Hungary and Bohemia were the only world class soccer nations who did not take part in the 1908 Games. Their late withdrawal reduced the number of competing teams to six and the Official Report gives the reason for their absence as “political troubles in the Balkans” though newspaper reports in their countries site “financial reasons”. This was a rather laconic way of describing the annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina by Austria, an action which ultimately led to the outbreak of World War I six years later. It was suggested that the Austrian government put political pressure on them to withdraw although the two nations were widely represented in other sports in London.

Similar to hockey, each country was allowed to field four separate teams. This was seen as a way of encouraging the host nation to field teams for England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Membership of FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) was not required to enter the Olympic tournament - only that the nation had a functioning Football Association. France had left FIFA earlier in the year but entered three teams and fielded two in London. Scotland, Ireland and Wales declined to participate so England were left to carry British hopes alone.Denmark, Holland and Sweden completed the entries.

The early rounds produced some high scoring matches and with their 17-1 defeat of France )A), Denmark set an Olympic scoring record which has never beaten. The Danish centre-forward, Sofus Nielsen, also set an Olympic record by individually scoring 10 of the goals in Denmark’s overwhelming victory.

Before a crowd of 8,000, Great Britain met Denmark in the final. In a classic match, Britain scored a goal in each half to give them a 2-0 victory but the Danes were highly praised for their skill and commitment. In a playoff match for third place Holland beat Sweden 2-0. Great Britain and Denmark maintained their pre-eminent position in world soccer and met again in the 1912 Olympic final when Britain were again the winners (4-2).

Six Danes and two Britons played in both the 1908 and 1912 finals and as the Danish players, Charles Buchwald and Oscar Nielsen, had also played in the 1906 final they became the only male players in history to take part in three Olympic soccer finals.

PosNrTeamNOCWTLPts
1Great BritainGBR300618–1Gold
2DenmarkDEN201426–3Silver
3NetherlandsNED10122–4Bronze
4SwedenSWE00201–14
=5France AFRA00101–17
=5France BFRA00100–9
DNSHungaryHUN–––
DNSBohemiaBOH–––

Round One (19 – 20 October 1908)

Single-elimination

Match #1 19 Oct 15:00DEN 9 – 0France B
Match #2 20 Oct 15:00GBR 12 – 1SWE
Match #3 NED
walkover
HUN
Match #4 France A
walkover
BOH

Semi-Finals (22 October 1908)

Single-elimination.

Match #1 22 Oct 13:00DEN 17 – 1France A
Match #2 22 Oct 15:00GBR 4 – 0NED

Final Round (23 – 24 October 1908)

Medal round.

Match 1/2 24 Oct 15:00GBR 2 – 0DEN
Match 3/4 1 223 Oct 15:00NED 32 – 0SWE

Rankings

Goals
Shots
Shots on Goal
Fouls Committed
Yellow Cards
Red Cards