Occupy football events in 1968. Eden became a military camp

The invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 and above all the news about the increasing number of civilian victims, the destruction of property and the destruction of the whole country, caused a stormy reaction against the aggressors. While politicians continued very diplomatically, athletes from Western countries openly expressed their angry attitudes.

And because of the conquest, the volume of the European football cup is changing.

The management of Italian club AC Milan has announced that it has refused to play against then-rivals in the Bulgarian People’s Democratic Republic, whose troops participated in the attack on Czechoslovakia. Shortly after, the Lombard club was joined by Celtic Glasgow, the winner of last year’s Champions Cup, drawn by the Hungarian Ferencváros Budapest.

UEFA reacted strongly. On August 30, he convened an executive committee at his headquarters in Geneva and found a solution: the representatives of the states that participated in the military invasion would face each other. Ferencváros would have faced Levski Sofia, Dynamo Kyiv against Ruch Chorzow. In relative terms, East German team Carl Zeiss Jena came out the best, left with Yugoslavia’s originally drawn ambassador Crvena Zvezda Belgrade from a friendly state of the socialist bloc.

The Romanian team Steaua Bucharest was also unaffected, as the Socialist Republic of Romania refused to join the occupation, even though it was a member of the Warsaw Pact. Czechoslovak champion Spartak Trnava became a rival army unit harassed by government authorities and the communist party.

In the end, the appearance of the clubs in the most important cup competition from the countries of the aggressor of the war did not happen, they all withdrew. UEFA accepted their decision with great relief, possible unpleasant conflicts and provocations were avoided, because one of the pair will advance to the next rounds and their dislike will only be postponed.

And UEFA also did not punish the clubs for arbitrarily disrupting the competition, for not complying with the obligation to participate after the previous registration, calling it an “exceptional case without precedent”.

Skiers will be more receptive

In the July draw, the Czechoslovak champion Spartak Trnava was given the opponent of the Swedish Malmö FF, after the draw at the end of August, the Romanian pride Steaua Bucharest. A huge change. “I didn’t know it happened,” admitted Karol Dobiaš, then the rising star of the Trnava team, European champion in 1976. “And no one responded to it in the cabin,” he recalled.

From today’s perspective, ignorance is incomprehensible to the point of punishment, utterly debilitating. It is not known who the team’s opponent will be in the Champions Cup. However, it is necessary to remember the circumstances. Trnava became champions for the first time in history, pushing back defending champions Sparta Prague as well as Slovak rivals Slovan Bratislava and Jednota Trenčín. “The celebrations were huge,” Dobiaš recalls.

Football legends in the News List

The players are on vacation, the European competition is very far away, the first round does not take place until the second half of September, there are no preliminary rounds. Although the all-important Champions Cup did not offer such financial rewards as it does today, moreover, the Czechoslovak representative cruised through the first rounds quite comfortably. Dukla reached the semi-finals in 1967, Sparta a year later in the quarter-finals, where they lost to the famous Real Madrid.

Military camp in Eden

The August conquest raised major concerns about domestic competition. Although the first two rounds of the new year took place, the next one was postponed and the ball was not kicked for a whole month. Some sports were turned into military camps (Slavic Eden), in Teplice or Košice the occupiers declared a ban on gatherings. The league can’t play. “It was a difficult time,” said Dobiaš.

When the cups started, Trnava faced a strong team from Bucharest. “It’s definitely a tougher opponent than Malmö,” said Dobiaš. Spying on the enemy was not common at that time, detailed information about the teams was not comprehensive. But there are experiences. “In our time, Swedish, Finnish or Norwegian clubs do not have a general level, their players are more skiers than footballers,” said Dobiaš. “We gave them five, six goals,” he stressed.

But Spartak will go. After an unfavorable away defeat 1:3 at home, the development revolves with a clear dominance of 4:0. In the next round, Reipas crushed Lahti 9:1 (the match was played in Vienna due to bad weather in Iceland) and 7:1. AC Milan and Benfica Lisbon had a free draw, teams from socialist countries withdrew. In the quarter-finals, Trnava triumphed over the Greek AEK Athens (2:1 and 1:1) and had a historic victory – the semi-finals.

In it, luck favors Ajax Amsterdam, they will keep their 3-0 lead from the Dutch ground in the rematch, although Trnava is one goal away from comparing the scores – 2-0. “We had them, the famous Cruyff did not even kick,” sighs Dobiaš even years later.

In the end, the trophy goes to AC Milan, which was the first to refuse to play against a team from the country of the aggressors. And after the draw, Sweden’s Malmö FF went to original opponents Trnava…

Slovan brought the cup

However, the changes also affected other European competitions. As in PMEZ, the Cup Winners’ Cup is drawn using the same principle, Dynamo Moscow against Górnik Zabrze, Spartak Sofia against Union Berlin and Dinamo Bucharest against Vasas Györ. And again, all clubs of socialist states preferred to withdraw.

Slovan Bratislava were originally supposed to face Iceland’s KR Reykjavík, but were forced to play against Yugoslavia’s FK Bor. He managed it with scratched ears (3:0 and 0:2), but then stopped the Portuguese FC Porto (0:1 and 4:0), Italian AC Torino (1:0 and 2:1), Scottish Dunfermline Athletic (1). : 1 and 1:0).

In Basel, Switzerland, the second Zlata Bula Sicilia was confirmed, Slovan defeated the famous FC Barcelona 3:2 in the PVP final and became the first and last Czechoslovak team to succeed on the European stage. Coach Jozef Vičan’s men brought to Bratislava the most important trophy in the history of the federation.

The somewhat surprising odd year 1968/1969 was the most successful for Czechoslovak club football.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *