Topend Sports Logo

There was a Football Demonstration Game at the 1896 Olympic Games

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. The two teams were from Greece and Denmark: The Greek team was the Sports Club Podilatikos Syllogos Athinon. That club was one of the pioneers of Greek football and it also represented Greece at the Track Cycling Competitions which were conducted at the 1896 Olympic Games.

Denmark was represented by two members from the Danish club Kobenhavns Roklub, Eugen Schmidt and Holger Nielsen, the rest of the team was made up of Danish sailors and businessmen who happened to be in Athens at the time! The club Kobenhavns Roklub had a good football team in the 1880s and the 1890s. The club received an invitation from the founder of the modern Olympic games, the Baron Pierre De Coubertin, to participate at the 1896 Olympics, and it looks like they sent just two players to represent them.

Denmark won either 9-0 or 15-0. The reason that the match was not reported anywhere was the fact that the Greek Crown Prince Constantine, who chaired the 1896 Olympic Organizing Committee, gave an order not to mention the unofficial sports which took place at the 1896 Olympics.

This is what he said: "If the work to which we are going to work has no official character, it will not appear except as the result of the spontaneous initiative of all Hellenes".

One of the organizers in 1896, the Frenchman Raoul Fabens said about this phrase: "This phrase, in the mouth of the Crown Prince, indicates well the preparation of the Olympic games in Greece"!

So the football match was not reported anywhere! The Crown Prince pointed his phrase to all countries as well, not specifically to Greece!

This football match was also of note as the first football match played by Greece according to the association football rules! The organizers were waiting for the football participation, although it was not on the official Olympic program. The match attracted a significant number of spectators at the time, over 6,000 people attended the Velodrome.

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 reference, 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 did it first appear? 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 entering the organization and everybody thought that all the talking about the 1896 football match is a rumor and there is 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 matches 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 teams from Greece and Denmark, the score was either 9-0 or 15-0 in favor of the Danes. Denmark was represented by local Danes and a couple of players from the kobenhavns roklub, and Greece was represented by podilatikos syllogos athinon members.

Related Pages

send us a comment Any comments, suggestions, or corrections? Please let us know.

Olympics Extra

The next Olympics will be in Paris 2024, followed by the Winter edition in Milan-Cortina 2026. Check out the list of Olympic Games sports, as well as discontinued and demonstration sports.

Major Events Extra

The largest sporting event in the world is the Olympic Games, but there are many other multi-sport games. In terms of single sport events, nothing beats the FIFA World Cup. To see what's coming up, check out the calendar of major sporting events.

 → How to Cite