How CDKA footballers were punished for defeat at the Olympics

In the late forties and early fifties of the last century, the CDKA football club was one of the strongest in the country. The "team of lieutenants", as the CDKA was then called, became the champion of the country in 1946, 1947, 1948, 1950 and 1951. But, in 1952, the team suddenly ceased to exist. The order number 793 of 18 August was read to the head of the team, Vasily Zaitsev, at the Sports Committee.

Moreover, the order noted that the team had caused "serious damage to the prestige of Soviet sports and the Soviet state." The senior coach of the CDKA Boris Arkadiev was fired, having removed from him the title of Honored Master of Sports. The leading footballers of the club were also deprived of their sports titles. In addition, they were disqualified for a period of one year. What were the footballers of the country's leading club accused of? Now it may seem strange, but the point is that the players of the USSR national team lost at the Olympic Games, and the players of the CDKA formed the core of the national team.

In 1952, Soviet athletes took part in the Summer Olympics for the first time. There were also footballers in the Olympic team. The players prepared for the upcoming tournament responsibly. Even the beginning of the USSR championship was postponed to August. Instead, the best footballers of the USSR held a number of friendly matches with teams from Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Czechoslovakia, Hungary. The results of these meetings were encouraging.

And on July 15, the USSR national team held their first meeting at the Olympics. Our opponents in the opening match were the footballers of Bulgaria. In regular time the spectators did not see the goals scored, our players managed to snatch the victory only in the extra, scoring two goals to the Bulgarians (Bobrov and Trofimov), letting one go into their own net.

In the 1/8 finals, the players of the USSR national team were to meet with Yugoslavia. Relations between the leaders of these states, Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin and Josip Broz Tito, were tense. It is not surprising that the upcoming match was not just a sporting event, it was a principled dispute between politicians.

In the first game, on July 20, 1952, Soviet footballers performed a real miracle, by the sixtieth minute they were losing with a crushing score of 1: 5. It seemed that the fate of the match was decided. But the incredible happened, in the remaining half hour our players were able to save the situation by scoring four goals in the remaining time. The result is 5: 5. The winner was to be determined in a replay, which was scheduled for July 22.

The second miracle did not work, despite the fact that Vsevolod Bobrov opened the scoring already on the 6th minute. In the future, only Yugoslav players scored, who won 3: 1. Our players were probably affected by the most powerful psychological pressure: high party officials before the match repeatedly stated that the entire Soviet Union, and personally Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin, expected only victory from them.

The players in Moscow were greeted dryly, Boris Arkadyev was summoned "upstairs" for an explanation. After some time, it seemed that the thunderstorm had passed, at the beginning of August, the next Soviet Union football championship began, which CDKA began very confidently, having won three victories in the first three matches.

But the match with Dynamo Kiev did not take place, the army players learned that they were removed from the championship, and the team was disbanded. It was they who were recognized as the main culprits of the Olympic failure. In the application for the tournament, the national team included five footballers of the CDKA. Only one of them, goalkeeper Vladimir Nikanorov, has never entered the field. In addition, the head coach of the CDKA Boris Arkadyev led the USSR national team at the Olympics.

The debacle on the football field ended in a debacle in the high offices. The results of three matches of the USSR championship with the participation of CDKA were canceled, the players who managed to avoid disqualification were assigned to other teams. The legendary "team of lieutenants" has ceased to exist.

Fortunately, the weaning from football did not last long. In the fall of 1953, when Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was no longer there, Defense Minister Nikolai Alexandrovich signed an order to revive the army team. The army striker Valentin Nikolaev was sometimes called "twice honored". The title "Honored Master of Sports" was received by the footballer in 1948, and in September 1952 he was stripped of it for "improper behavior during matches." Only in 1959, when Nikolaev had already completed his sports career, the title was


Soviet footballers were able to rehabilitate themselves four years later by winning the Olympic Games in Melbourne. The champions included Anatoly Bashashkin. In 1952, he was also found guilty of defeat. Bashashkin was stripped of the title of master of sports and was disqualified for one year for "irresponsible behavior", because of which the match with the national team of Yugoslavia was lost.

By the way, not everyone shared the point of view that the main reason for the dissolution of the CDKA was the unsuccessful game with Yugoslavia. Some at that time argued that Defense Minister A.M. Vasilevsky was against big sport in the army. He was sure that mass physical education in military units is much more important.