Thursday, July 26, 2012

26 July 1948 - The Olympics Return

On 26 July 1948, Olympic football kicked off in London, ending a 12-year hiatus imposed by the outbreak of World War II.

The last Olympic games were held in Berlin in 1936, with Italy taking the gold medal in football. Tokyo was scheduled to host the 1940 games, with London following in 1944. But the eruption of World War II in 1939 forced the cancellation of the games for the duration (some countries suspended league play as well).

When the war ended in 1945, the Olympic organizers resumed their plans for a 1948 tournament and chose London as hosts, foregoing Tokyo because of Japan's role in the conflict. Although opening ceremonies were not until 29 July, the football tournament started three days early with a four-team preliminary round.

The Netherlands beat the Republic of Ireland 2-0 at Fratton Park in Portsmouth. Meanwhile, Luxembourg dominated Afghanistan 6-0 at the Goldstone Ground in Brighton, setting their record victory in the process. Unfortunately for both teams, their success did not carry into the first round, as the Dutch lost to Great Britain in extra time, 4-3, and Luxembourg fell to Yugoslavia 6-1 despite taking the lead in the tenth minute.

Great Britain advanced to the semi-finals before losing to Yugoslavia, who took silver after falling to Sweden in the final.

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