October 13 - October 26
Olympic Football Tournament Mexico City 1968
Mexico City, 1968
The 1968 Summer Games might have been the most tumultuous of all Olympics, and that confusion and problems touched the football tournament as well. In the end, Hungary, who captured their third gold medal, joined Great Britain (1908 and 1912) and Uruguay (1924 and 1928) as the only back-to-back Olympic champions.
It was not always a smooth ride to the gold-medal match. Morocco, who had qualified for the tournament, refused to play Israel. Morocco's replacement, Ghana, lost to Israel, 5-3, in a fight-filled match that reportedly continued at the Olympic Village. Czechoslovakia and Guatemala also fought, setting the stage for two controversy-filled medal games.
During Mexico's 2-0 loss to Japan in the bronze-medal game, irate fans in the Azteca Stadium threw cushions onto the field to protest a call, and did the same again during the final.
The Japanese undoubtedly were the surprise side of the tournament, defeating France, 3-1, in the quarter-finals. Kunishige Kamamoto, who scored seven of his country's nine goals, was the competition's top scorer. Bulgaria, who gained the semi-finals only after a coin toss, scored first, but the Hungarians took control with two goals by Ivan Menczel and Antal Dunai within a minute late in the first half.
The game quickly deteriorated as referee Diego DeLeo red-carded Bulgarian forward Tzevan Dimitrov for rough play. Atanas Christov kicked the ball at DeLeo and was also ejected. Kiril Ivkov was thrown out and Bulgaria were forced to play with eight players as fans again threw cushions onto the field in what turned into a 4-1 Hungarian triumph. Juhasv and Dunai added second-half scores before 75,000 in the Azteca.
One interesting note: Hungarian defender Deszo Novak gained a rare and unique distinction by becoming the only football player to win three Olympic medals a bronze in 1960 and golds in 1964 and 1968.