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Kelemen: IX. Olympiad Amsterdam 1928
Author: Isaque Argolo | Creation Date: 2022-07-20 11:49:51
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SEVENTEEN NATIONS AND SEVENTEEN DAYS IN THE OLYMPIC STADIUM
— A REPORT ON THE FOOTBALL OLYMPICS —
Ernő Kelemen | 13/06/1928, Amsterdam
Seventeen national teams competed in the Amsterdam Football Olympics, and football from three continents was represented. Five teams came from the Americas as opposed to one from Africa, while Europe was represented by 11 teams, or only 10, because Turkey's team could be safely described as Asian judging by the way it played. The 17 teams themselves also represented a good seventeen different footballing styles, or at least the critics gave them seventeen different classifications.
The weather, it behaved well, was merciful, for in fact it did not rain once during the 17 days — 19 Olympic football matches. Only during the battle for the third prize was the wet ground slippery. In fact, Egypt slipped all the way — and slipped, too, losing 11:3 to Italy.
The stadium, where the police allowed a maximum of 31.000 spectators, was only full on four occasions. On each of these four occasions, Uruguay was one of the opponents. The Uruguayan team was therefore the hit of the Olympics, with fifty per cent of the battles taking place in the afternoon and fifty per cent in the evening, and twice under floodlights.
The most beautiful battle was admittedly the Italy-Uruguay match. The ugliest: Germany-Uruguay. The most exciting: Netherlands-Uruguay. Most waited: Argentina-Uruguay. Most injuries were in the Germany-Uruguay match, with the Netherlands-Uruguay encounter making the most noise. The largest number of police were deployed to the Germany-Uruguay. The biggest disappointment was the 4:0 defeat of Switzerland by Germany, and finally the most unexpected result was the final match itself, where the last minutes could have cost the Dutch Olympic Committee a round 60.000 forints, because one goal could have prevented a new match, another full house and a new 60.000 forints.
The best team in the football Olympics was definitely Argentina. They produced the most beautiful matches. They always played a real football of high standards. They would probably have made it to the final of the Olympics even if, for example, Central Europe, England and Sweden had been represented at the Olympics this time. However, among the teams on Olympic turf, the worst performers were Turkey and Mexico. And the most sophisticated team was definitely the Uruguayan team. They worked with secret tricks. For headers, they would hold on to the opponent's shirt to prevent them from jumping. Where the grass was high, they'd crawl. They ran ahead when everyone was waiting behind. They jumped when they should have crawled on their stomach, but he could also lie on their stomach. They didn't play well, but they had a great football routine and always won.
The toughest team was the Belgium team, they are still red devils who can fight to the end. When Luxembourg were leading against them, they equalised and even won. And when Argentina were 3:0 up, they still equalised 3:3. The toughest team, both in terms of weight and opponent, was Germany. To win, to win... That was the thought that burned in them the most. They played the hardest. The Italians, on the other hand, were the most impressive. They even got flowers twice, and they loved them so much they even replayed one of their games with them. True, they behaved nobly too. The Italian forward, for example, to compensate for the Belgian referee's severity, kicked a penalty not into the Egyptian goal but deliberately — to thunderous applause — out of the way. It is true that they could have done so, because they were already 10:2 up. But the Dutch team were the most unfriendly when they refused to shake hands with the Uruguay players before, after or during the match. Or when Uruguay players who rushed to help were pushed away from their compatriots on the ground by the Dutch national team. The Amsterdam crowd, not used to such discourtesy, blinked in vain, but the Dutch eleven wanted to protest that they had not yet forgotten 1924, Paris, Colombe, the Netherlands-Uruguay match of the time!
Finally, the best organised teams — definitely the South Americans. They also had the most money, lived the best and had the most affluent life in Amsterdam. The biggest contrasts between the two struggling sides were in the Argentina vs. USA (11:2) and Egypt vs. Turkey (7:1) matches. And in terms of form and strength, the Argentina-Uruguay match saw the smallest difference.
In terms of goalscoring, the most prolific forwards were Argentina and Italy. One scored eleven goals against USA, the other against Egypt. But there were no matches where the score was 1-0, although several games ended with a one-goal difference. Of the 19 matches, two were drawn and replayed. 2-0 was recorded once and 2-1 twice. Of the 17 nations, Switzerland and the Netherlands failed to score a single goal. But the big scoreline was 7:1 on just three occasions. Finally, the most goals, 14th in number, were scored in the Italy-Egypt game!
There were teams that showed immediate activity and managed to score in the first minute, but there were also teams that stuttered on the pitch for 40 minutes without a single healthy action.
Only three of the team captains could be heard from individually. Nasazzi, the Uruguay captain, who was injured, was sent off and even banned for one match as punishment. Of the 17 captains, he was the only one to suffer such a fate. Then the Dutch captain, Harry Denis, who was honoured on the occasion of his 50th cap, and finally Baloncieri, the leader of the Italian team, who scored many goals and whose name was constantly mentioned in the grandstand.
Of the forwards, the Belgian forward Raymond Braine was the most popular. The Uruguayan forwards Petrone, Borjas, Scarone, Cea, Urdinarán, Campolo and the one-armed Castro were also very lively, but it was the Argentinean goal-scorers who scored the most. Orsi, who was extremely fast, Carricaberry, who had a really long arm and Ferreira, who was almost unassailable. The finest forward was the Italian Baloncieri. The most violent forward was the German, who stunned his opponent without the ball! They were both the slowest and the hardest of the forwards. Unfortunately, there are no statistics on the biggest and the smallest. The most interesting name, however, was definitely the Chilean forward known as Alfaro, but who was also constantly pilloried by the crowd for his blunders. The Uruguayan centre-forward had a good name: Borjas. Uruguay's Petrone was the most disappointing of the world famous, insofar as he is nowhere near as exceptional as he was in the past.
The best of the halves on the Olympic stage is definitely the Uruguayan Andrade, but he is a shade smaller than the Parisian, but he is still very capable, he was the gummi in the duel with Orsi, the Argentinian forward, and he matched the greatest performance at the Orpheum and only when Orsi even tore off his pants did Andrade spread out in the green grass. His compatriot, Fernández, as well as his South American colleagues, the Argentinian Monti and the white-capped Evaristo, formed the group of the world-famous half-backs.
Of the full-backs, the giant-footed Egyptian Salem should be mentioned first. Nasazzi, Arispe, Bidoglio, the South Americans, were second only to him in my opinion. As for the goalkeepers, the Belgian Debie made the most interesting save. But the best goalkeeper, despite the defeat, was van der Meulen. The most successful was Mazali, the Uruguayan goalkeeper. The most unsuccessful was an Egyptian. The biggest, at least in terms of size, was the American goalkeeper. The most heroic scene was that of the Argentine goalkeeper. Combi, the Italian goalkeeper, could have won a ballerina award. The Dutchman was the snappiest. Some goalkeepers had blood dripping from their sides during the game. Two of them had been kicked so badly that they had to be repaired. But it was only Bosio, the Argentine goalkeeper, who fainted, but two minutes later he was back in his goal, alert.
Only 5 players were sent off by the referees. Two Yugoslavians, two Germans and one Uruguayan for this honour. Incidents were many. Injuries too. The biggest injury was to the Uruguayan captain. One dislocated his shoulder during a game, but the doctors put it right at the interval. The referee was only shaken a little during the Germany-Uruguay game.
An Egyptian with a huge stature — once jumped over two Italians at the same time, knocking one over and burying two under him. In the process, he caught the ball between his legs, knocked the whistle out of the referee's hand by mistake and left himself with two teeth on the floor. We have seen few scenes of enjoyment and splendour. Most of all we were angry with the German Kalb, who was trottable and rude. Uruguay's Nasazzi came out for the final with a huge open wound, only for his team to take the fight back with even more confidence and hope.
Thirty-six football referees have registered in Amsterdam. They represented the football refereeing faculties of 18 countries. But the main ones were Dutch and Belgian referees. They refereed the difficult matches. For example, Langenus, a thin, skinny but very tall Belgian, made three appearances. The Hungarian referees also played three times, with Ivancsics twice as assistant referee and Gábor Boronkay once as match referee. The least successful of the referees was Egyptian Youssef Mohamed. It is true that he had a very difficult job, because he did not speak a word of German or Spanish in the German-Uruguayan match. Most interestingly, Hasra, refereeing in Dutch for Eymers, lay down when he had to and watched the — Uruguayan footballer. There was one referee who got into an argument with the players. There were several referees who made many errors of judgement Two of them called the game off earlier than they should have, one of them called the game back and played the teams on. And the Spanish Comorera forgot to look at his watch and a goal was scored in injury time against the Dutch. He also found himself in a dangerous situation when he and his whistle tripped over a ball in the forward box and he was kicked a little. Of course, it was the referees' box who were the most critical of their colleagues, with Dutchman Mutters and German Alfréd Birlem receiving the best criticism.
The Dutch had high financial hopes, which did not seem justified in the first days of the football Olympics. Luckily, the previous Hockey Olympics had brought in an unexpected amount of money. Later, the Uruguay matches helped the situation, and finally, the replay of the final match put the balance right, so that the Amsterdam Football Olympics brought in 720.000 Dutch forints, or 4.700.000 pengő. This is a huge sum, meaning that the Dutch exceeded the football revenues of the Stockholm, Antwerp and even the Paris Olympics. They owe this success mainly to South America, who came to Europe to dust each other off. Secondly, to the wealthy Dutch, who, undeterred by the exorbitant prices, paid every penny for tickets.
Leaving the problems of ticket sales aside, the only real enthusiasm for the organisation of the football Olympics in Amsterdam is the highest. Outside the sadion, the Amsterdam police kept an exemplary order. Inside the stadium, General Secretary van Rossen and stadium director van der Berg kept an iron discipline. A trio of press officers, Mr. Holkema, Mr. de Peaux and Mr. Baar, were on hand to serve the journalists. The Dutch colleagues were courteous. The post office worked splendidly. There was even a world record for telegraphy. For example, a telegram from the post office at the Amsterdam stadium to a major daily newspaper in Buenos Aires about the first Uruguay-Argentina match took 52 seconds to reach the post office. For the Carpentier-Dempsey boxing match between New York and London, the fastest telegram was 59 seconds.
Dutch newspapers, especially the Amsterdam daily, ran a special edition for every Uruguay match. The Allg. Handelsblad in Amsterdam, for example, published this special edition in German, French, English, Spanish and Dutch. The radio was in constant use.
A special study was the speed of the photographers. Every special moment, every striking scene, was photographed in 15 minutes, ready to be taken in any number.
Finally, the Italian colours were waving in the wind between two South American flags on the victory mast of the Amsterdam stadium. These three are the happy footballers of a new era! They won a prize at the 1928 Olympics. And the glory will be lasting, for they will be the talk of the footballing world for at least four years!
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