Football Demonstration Sport (1896)

Although it is not widely known, there is evidence of an Association Football match played as a demonstration sport during the 1896 Olympics (also cricket). Below are the details of the evidence of such a match, as given to me by Nitzan Zilburg. He has notified the IOC and he believes that they will recognize it in due time.

There was a demonstration football match which took place on April 12th 1896, played at the Neo Phaliron Velodrome. A team from Greece (Athens) played against Denmark, the score was 9-0 in favor of the Danish team. There was also another match, Denmark v Smyrna (a Greek colony at the time) which finished 5-2 in favor of Denmark. [another source has a final being played between Athens and Denmark, won by Athens 15-0]

The information came from the testimony of the Russian representative for the IOC in Athens in 1896, Mr Aleksey Butovsky. This information was published in the USSR.

We know that it was Mr Butovsky according to a research of the national academy of sciences of Ukraine, they are responsible for more than 90 percent of the big discoveries which are made in Ukraine.

1. Greek interview

The Greek interview with the old Greek footballer and referee in 1970, here is the interview: Here is a translation from Greek for the first two minutes of the interview, there you shall see the reference for 1896 Olympics and another references, not about the Olympics:

The Greek journalist, Mr Andreas Bohm is asking Mr Malonis Isaias questions:

Bohm- Mr Isaias, could you tell us when was football first entered into Greece? I mean, when was it first appeared? When was the first Greek kicking the ball?

Isaias- In 1896, at the Olympic Games which occurred in Athens, a team of beginners which was at its first steps at the time, has represented the Hellenic Football at the Velodrome (Cycling Track in Faliro).

Bohm- Has this team represented Greece officially?

Isaias- Yes, it has. Also it has represented Greece officially in the Track Cycling competitions which were conducted at the 1896 Olympic Games, but they were completely beginners and didn't know the football rules which exist today.

Bohm- When did the first football clubs appear?

Isaias- In 1906 officially appeared the first teams, for instance, Kalafatis had founded Omilos Athinon in the field he rent at Patision Street, the National Gymnastics Club created a team and also Peiraikos had a team in Pireus.

Bohm- I think that from the National Gymnastics Club was created Goudi FC, was it?

Isaias- Yes, in 1907 or 1908 the team of the National Gymnastics Club had quit and the team Goudi FC was created instead. In 1910 at the first official competition which the Greek Federation of Athletics Associations (SEGAS) had organized...

Bohm- The football by then was under the auspices of SEGAS if I'm not mistaken.

Isaias- Yes, it was under the auspices of SEGAS until 1919-1920. Well, at the competition which SEGAS organized in 1910 three teams participated: The team of Kalafatis named Athinaikos, Goudi FC and Peiraikos.

Bohm- Which team did you play for?

Isaias- I played for Goudi FC and this was the team which won that competition at the Velodrome.

That old footballer was one of the very first Greek football pioneers and one of the fathers of Greek football. By the way, by saying that the Greek team of beginners has represented Greece officially the old man meant that this football match was an integral part of the 1896 Olympic Games.

2. Ukrainian National Academy of sciences

The State University of Telecommunications in Kiev presents the research of the Ukrainian National Academy of sciences in this PDF The research shows the timeline of Ukrainian Football from the beginning, I quote: "The history of football in Ukraine has been 114 years. It is much earlier than in any part of the Russian Empire. IN establish the exact date of the birth of Ukrainian football has actively involved Lviv Scientific Committee, which included authors the book "History of Lviv football" (Lviv: Publishing Galician Union, 1999. - 160 p.) Mykhalyuk Yuri, Yuri Nazarkevych Roman Melech, Doctor of Law Volodymyr Kampo, Ph.D. John Rovenchak Geographical Sciences and others.

Subsequently, the scientific committee joined the head of the Laboratory of Physical Education Institute Problems of Education Sciences of Ukraine, corresponding member of the Ukrainian National Academy of Sciences Nikolai Zubaliy progress. Thanks to him for many years in the journal "Physical education in schools" printed chronology of formation and development of football in the ethnic Ukraine lands. Here are some of the facts contained M.Zubaliyem.

On page 18 of this PDF you will find the reference for 1896 Olympics. The information which was published in the Soviet Union came from the testimony of Mr Aleksey Butovsky (1838-1917), the Russian representative for the IOC in Athens in 1896. Mr Butovsky has witnessed that football match in the 1896 Olympics and his home nation was Ukraine.

3. 40th FIFA Congress

This PDF shows that the 40th FIFA Congress in July 1976 has dealt with the recognition of the first three demonstration football tournaments at the Olympics: 1896, 1900 and 1904 and retroactively recognized them as official tournaments: It is in the Ukrainian language. As I showed you the reference for FIFA was the testimony of Mr Butovsky. After a few years FIFA has dropped the 1896 match from the list of the Olympic Football Tournament because it was unofficial and then the 1896 match has been forgotten because there were new FIFA officials entered the organization and everybody thought that all the talking about the 1896 football match is a rumor and there is a confusion made between the 1896 and the 1906 Olympics. By the way, this issue when FIFA talked about the 1896, 1900 and 1904 editions of the football tournament is not included in the minutes of the 40th FIFA Congress, but as you could see the document gives the bibliography so that is correct.

4. FIFA News

FIFA News number 155 from April 1976 lists Denmark as the first Olympic champions. Later that year in July there was the 40th FIFA congress which has dealt with the recognition of the 1896, 1900 and 1904 as official tournaments.


In conclusion, football was on the Olympic program in 1896 Olympics but as a demonstration sport. There was one demonstration football match played at the Neo Phaliron Velodrome. The match featured Greece against Denmark, the score was either 9-0 or 15-0 in favor of the Danes like it was published in the USSR. Another match was blayed between Denmark and Smyrna, the final score 5-2.

The Greek team was a team of beginners in football which have also represented Greece, accept in football, in the Track Cycling competitions which were conducted at the 1896 Olympic Games, that is according to the old Greek football player and referee.

The Danish team was a team of Danish sailors and business men who were happened to be in Athens in 1896, that is according to a Danish book which concludes 100 years of the Danish national football team from 1906 to 2006 and it mentions also unofficial football matches like in 1896.

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