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Football at the 1906 Athina Summer Games:

Men's Football

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Host City: Athina, Greece
Venue(s): Neo Faliro Velodrome, Peiraias
Date Started: April 23, 1906
Date Finished: April 25, 1906
Format: Single-elimination tournament.

Gold: DEN Denmark
Silver: MIX Mixed team
Bronze: GRE Greece-1

Summary

The football competitions in 1906 were held at the [Podilatodromio Neou Falirou]. The matches were conducted on the infield of the velodrome and during the matches, the spectators sat on the edges of the velodrome track to watch. The matches were noted to be poorly attended, possibly because the Danish team won easily, dominating its matches. Denmark initially was not certain it would enter a team at Athens, because four of its best players were ineligible, having been penalized by the national federation.

Denmark easily defeated the [Smyrna team] in the first round. Smyrna was a mixed team of players of several nationalities (see below) and had relatively good players. But it was noted that the team played defense almost exclusively and mounted no attacks. The first round of the match sprint cycling event was held on the velodrome during halftime of this first round match.

The next match was between a Greek National Team ("[Ethnikos]"), mostly from Athens, and a [team from Thessaloniki]. Fan interest was higher in this match because it was basically two Greek teams playing. The Athenian side was led by Georgios Merkouris, son of the mayor of Athens, Spyros Merkouris, and two brother pairs - the Botasis and Vrionis brothers. The game was quite rough with numerous penalties.

Greece (Athens) was trailing Denmark by 9-0 at halftime of the final match, and did not appear for the second half. The Greek team was then disqualified. A play-off between Greece, Smyrna, and Thessaloniki was scheduled for 2nd place. Greece protested, feeling it should have been awarded 2nd place, on the basis of having advanced to the final match. The protest was rejected and the Greek team withdrew. It was then elected to play off a second-place match between Smyrna and Thessaloniki for second place.

Effectively, the other three teams besides Denmark were Greek teams. One was listed as representing Athens, as a purely Greek team. The other two were listed as representing Thessaloniki and Smyrna. Thessalonikin athletes were almost certainly Greek given their names. However, in 1906, Thessaloniki was still part of the Turkish Ottoman Empire. Smyrna was then also a part of Turkey, as it is now, currently called İzmir. It is really difficult to know what to call the football team from Smyrna, in terms of giving it a national title. Although it would be easy to call it a Turkish team, none of its athletes came from that country. The eleven-man team was represented by several British players - most named Whittal; a few French players and one Armenian, Zareck Couyoumdzian, although in 1906 Armenia was a part of Turkey. The Whittals were not all brothers but were two sets of brothers that were respectively cousins to each other, as British Olympic historian, Ian Buchanan, has pointed out. Albert, Edward, and Godfrey Whittal were the sons of Edward Whittal, and Donald and Harold were their first cousins, being the sons of Edward's brother, Richard Easton Whittal.

Barcs describes the 1906 soccer tournament thusly, "In Athens Denmark's all-star team had not a single serious rival. Because of this, the soccer tournament was held under very poor circumstances, in a very primitive form, in the sweltering heat, in a small town."

Final Standings

Rank Team NOC Medal G
1 Denmark DEN Gold 14
2 Smyrna MIX Silver 4
3 Thessaloníki-1 GRE Bronze 0
AC Athens-2 GRE DQ