Host City: Stockholm, Sweden
Venue(s): Råsunda Sports Grounds, Solna; Stockholm Olympic Stadium, Stockholm; Traneberg Sporting Grounds, Stockholm
Date Started: June 29, 1912
Date Finished: July 5, 1912
Format: Single-elimination tournament.
The Swedish Olympic Football Committee made the plans for the 1912 Olympic football (soccer) tournament. The original plans allowed each nation to enter as many as four teams, but at the annual meeting of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) in 1911, the following ruling was made, "Although the rules for the Football Competitions at the Olympic Games of Stockholm in 1912 permit every nation affiliated to Fédération Internationale de Football Association to send four teams to the competition, the Fédération considers it most suitable that each nation should send only one." The original ruling was made to allow Great Britain to enter four teams - one each for England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. However, The Scottish Football Association (founded in 1873), The Football Association of Wales (founded in 1876), and the Irish Football Association (founded in 1880), all decided not to enter. It was left to The Football Association, founded in 1863, and governing football in England, to enter a team.
The entries closed on 29 May and 13 teams were entered. France and Belgium originally entered but withdrew, leaving 11 teams to compete for the championship. Bohemia also tried to enter a team but its entry was refused as it was no longer a member of FIFA.
The event was planned as a single-elimination competition and the draw was held on 18 June 1912 at the office of (Svenska Gymnastik - och Idrottsföreningarnas Riksförbund (the National Football of Swedish Gymnastics and Sports Club). The two losing semi-finalists competed for the bronze medals. A consolation tournament was also conducted with all losing teams from the first two rounds allowed to compete. First prize in the consolation tournament was silver medals from the Svenska Fotbollförbundet (Swedish Football Association), while second prize was bronze medals from the same organization.
The games were at three arenas in or near Stockholm: [The Olympic Stadium], [Råsunda Idrottsplats], and [Tranebergs Idrottsplats]. Råsunda Idrottsplats was inaugurated in 1910 and was jointly owned by Svenska Fotbollförbundet and some football clubs in Stockholm. It had a stand for 2,000 spectators and a total capacity of around 12,000. In 1937 it was rebuilt with concrete stands for 40,000 spectators, becoming the national arena for Swedish football (the Wembley of Sweden), and renamed Fotbollstadion. It was further enlarged to 50,000 seats for the 1958 World Cup finals when it was the main stadium. Tranebergs Idrottsplats was the home ground of [Djurgårdens IF], one of the leading football clubs in Stockholm. It was inaugurated in 1911, with a stand for 2,000 spectators and a total capacity of around 10,000.
The weather during the 1912 Olympic football tournament was exceptionally warm for Sweden, so much so that buckets of water were placed besides the touch-lines so players could refresh themselves during play.
England won the gold medal fairly easily, winning their first two matches by 7-0 against Hungary and 4-0 against Finland. In the semi-final match against Finland, Harold Walden scored two goals for England, and in the first round against Hungary, he had scored six of Britain seven goals. In addition to the medals awarded to the British players, Great Britain earned possession of the Challenge Trophy for football, which had been donatde in 1908 by The Football Association of Great Britain.
In the final, Denmark was hampered by the loss of Poul "Tist" Nielsen, who had sprained his knee against The Netherlands in the semi-finals. The first goal of the final was scored by England's Walden at 10 minutes. At 22 minutes, Gordon Hoare made the score England 2, Denmark 0. Shortly thereafter, Denmark's Anton Olsen scored from 25 metres out to tighten up the match. Unfortunately, shortly before the interval Charles Buchwald of Denmark, after a heading duel with Vivian Woodward, dislocated his shoulder and was unable to continue. England took advantage of this by scoring two goals within three minutes to lead 4-1 at the half. Although playing a man down in the second half, Denmark managed to reduce the lead to 4-2, which was the final score.
In the first round of the consolation series, Germany defeated Russia 16-0, led by Gottfried Fuchs, who scored 10 goals, equalling the Olympic record which had been set by Denmark's Sofus Nielsen in 1908. Harold Walden's 11 goals still made him the highest overall goal scorer for the Olympic tournament.