European Championship Stories: 1960 – Cold War Football

There are plenty of people, not least within the governing bodies of football itself, who would have it that football and politics don’t mix. This is, of course, bunkum, whether we like it or not. The game holds such influence over so many people that it sometimes seems impossible for politicians not to be able to link the two, from the relatively harmless, “You only win the World Cup under Labour” slogans of Harold Wilson’s British government of the late 1960s to the altogether more sinister machinations of the state organisations and their leaders that ran clubs in Eastern Europe during the Cold War. That the expansion of pan-European football should have come in the years following the second world war shouldn’t be surprising. One lasting legacy of the war was huge progress in the area of aeronautics, which led to the rapid popularisation of commercial air travel in the post-war years. European tours by some of the biggest club sides on the continent – in particular those from behind the newly-formed Iron Curtain, such as Honved of Hungary and Dynamo Moscow – became commonplace and led to the formation of UEFA in 1954. The first European Cup winners would be crowned two years later. What, though, of international football? By the mid-1950s it was more than apparent that the future of the international game would involve further expansion...

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