Communist soccer gives flowers to capitalism

During World War II, the United States and Great Britain allied with the Soviet Union to fight against Nazi Germany. Although they believed in the opposing ideologies of capitalism based on private property and communism based on common property, they formed an alliance against a common enemy.  

In 1944, the British and Soviet governments first planned to host a football match with the aim of promoting friendship between the two countries. On May 8, 1945, Nazi Germany unconditionally surrendered to the Allies, ending the war in Europe. Finally, in October of that year, Britain and the Soviet Union agreed to host a soccer match. However, ahead of the start of the Cold War, the two countries were entering a phase of increasing suspicion and hostility.   토토사이트

The English Football Association (FA) invited 1945 Soviet champions FC Dynamo Moscow. However, Dynamo was a club backed by Stalin’s secret police, the NKVD, and they were given a special order not to be defeated by the capitalist club before leaving for England. In addition, there were reports in the British media that if Dynamo lost, players would be exiled to Siberia for six months. 

Dynamo’s arrival in the UK was delayed, and in the meantime, players with good skills, though not from Dynamo, joined the team one after another. In reality, they were the Soviet national team wrapped up under the name Dynamo. Dynamo’s visit to England was the first instance of the Soviet government’s use of sports for political and diplomatic purposes. 

The Dynamo squad arrived in London in November, dressed in blue coats, carrying unusual bags wrapped in dark cloth in their hands. Some British conspiracy theorists suspected that they had smuggled the atomic bomb. But what was in the bag was groceries. The team, aware of the British food rationing system at the time, brought food for them to eat. 

Due to Dinamo’s constant schedule changes, the FA was unable to book a hotel for them to stay. On the first day they arrived in London, the squad was assigned to the barracks of the Royal Horse Guards. Disappointed with bare beds without sheets and pillows, the players refused to stay there and headed to the Soviet embassy. Hearing this news, many citizens of London visited the embassy and announced that they would provide their homes to the athletes. Even at the time, before the Cold War began in earnest, Soviet people who suffered enormous casualties fighting Nazi Germany during World War II were popular in Britain. 

Upon arriving in London, the Dynamo squad put forward 14 demands. Among them was a request that they would only eat at the Soviet embassy. Because there were players who were afraid of being poisoned. In addition, they demanded that a Soviet referee should referee one match, and that the game against Arsenal must be played. The logic was that not coming all the way to London and playing against Arsenal was “like visiting Cairo without seeing the pyramids”. 

The FA acquiesced to most of their requests, but refused to play on Saturday afternoon. Traditionally, Saturday is the day when English league matches are held. In the end, the two countries agreed to split the profits 50-50, and the opponent for the first match was decided to be Chelsea. 

There were no regular football matches during the war, and the curiosity about the enigmatic team from the wartime allies increased the British interest in the match against Dynamo. The match at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea’s home ground, on November 13 was officially closed in front of 74,496 spectators, but many people entered the field. Fans flocked to every space where they could watch the game, including the roof of the stands. In fact, it is said that 100,000 to 120,000 spectators watched the game that day. 

Before kick-off, Dynamo players present bouquets to Chelsea players as a sign of goodwill. It was a common courtesy in the Soviet league, but Chelsea players and spectators who encountered it for the first time were embarrassed. “Is today Chelsea’s funeral?” shouted some in the crowd.

Dinamo dominated the early part of the game with skillful passing. However, in preparation for this match, Chelsea had England’s leading striker Tommy Lawton, who had been recruited from Everton just a week before. Thanks to his performance, Chelsea took a 2-0 lead at half time. 

Chelsea led until the 70th minute of the second half, but allowed two goals in a row to tie the game. Chelsea then took the lead again with Lawton’s powerful header, but minutes later Bobrov conceded the game to make it 3-3. In fact, Bobrov’s equalizer was more like offside. To Lawton, who was protesting, the referee said the decision was made for “diplomatic reasons.” 

Despite the controversy, England fans were impressed by Dynamo’s excellent passing and quick movements. After the match, the spectators gathered on the pitch lifted up some Dynamo players and even burned their lanterns. Amid praise from the British press for their performance, Dynamo’s UK tour continued. 

Ewha Womans University Department of International Affairs Visiting Professor

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