German Football At The Olympics : Major Policy Shift For Defending Gold Medalists


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The Olympic team of the DEUTSCHE DEMOKRATISCHE REPUBLIK stand at attention for the national anthem prior to the start of the Testspiel (won 2-1 by the D.D.R.) opposite the amateur national team of the Netherlands at the Friedrich Ludwig Jahn Sportpark (situated right along the border of a split city) in East Berlin on April 26, 1980.

left to right … captain Frank TERLETZKI (Dynamo Berlin), Bodo RUDWALEIT (Dynamo Berlin), Juergen BAEHRINGER (FC Karl Marx Stadt), Frank UHLIG (FC Karl Marx Stadt), Andreas TRAUTMANN (Dynamo Dresden), Norbert TRIELOFF (Dynamo Berlin), Matthias LIEBERS (FC Lokomotive Leipzig), Dieter STROZNIAK (FC Chemie Halle), Martin TROCHA (FC Carl Zeiss Jena), Dieter KUEHN (FC Lokomotive Leipzig) and Gert BRAUER (FC Carl Zeiss Jena)
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The Moscow Summer Games of 1980 marked a major shift in Olympic policy by the Deutscher Fussball Verband, the governing body of football in the GERMAN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC. Up to this point, the Deutsche Demokratische Republik, more or less, always used the senior national team to represent the country in the Olympic football competition. The D.D.R. had, after all, issued the momentous Leistungssportbeschluss demanding Olympic excellence in 1969 and the East German football program had done its part by contributing a bronze in Munich and a gold in Montreal to the all-important medal count.

By the late 1970s, however, the priorities of both the D.F.V. and the G.D.R. government had begun to ‘evolve’ somewhat. There is little question that the Bundesrepublik Deutschland’s continued success at the highest levels of senior international football weighed heavily on the minds of many on the other side of the Antifaschistischer Schutwall (Anti-Fascist Protection Bulwark) in the divided city of Berlin. Furthermore, East Germany’s ability to not only qualify for the final tournament of the 1974 FIFA World Cup but defeat the host nation and eventual champion, West Germany, had done nothing but increase everyone’s desire to see the D.D.R. do better at major international football events outside the Olympics.

The state-controlled television authority in the German Democratic Republic reported a 70.7% share of all available viewers for the historic East Germany v West Germany clash in Munich while the D.D.R. national team’s meaningless World Cup match with Argentina (both teams were already eliminated) in 1974 had claimed 60.9% share of the available audience, as well. These numbers were not lost on those occupying seats in the Politubro of the Sozilalistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands (Socialist Unity Party of Germany), the supreme governing authority in the G.D.R. to whom the D.F.V. answered. Neither was the failure of the East Germany national team to qualify for the final tournament of the 1978 FIFA World Cup in Argentina.

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East Germany midfielder RUEDIGER SCHNUPHASE (6) of FC Carl Zeiss Jena, who was not a member of the D.D.R. squad that later won the Olympic gold medal at Montreal in 1976, competes for a high ball with Argentina defender RAMON HEREDIA (10) of Spanish La Liga side Atletico Madrid during the 1974 FIFA World Cup second round, Group A match that ended in a 1-1 draw before 54,254 speactators at the Parkstadion in Gelsenkirchen, West Germany. In the background to the right is famous D.D.R. forward JUERGEN SPARWASSER (14) of FC Magdeburg, scorer of the game’s only goal in the historic all-German encounter at Hamburg. To the left is Argentina midfielder ROBERTO TELCH (18) of Buenos Aires-based CA San Lorenzo.
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Meanwhile, the draw for the 1980 UEFA European Championships placed the East Germans in a very difficult group with both the Netherlands (beaten Finalist at both the 1974 and 1978 FIFA World Cups) and Poland. It was decided that the D.D.R.’s elite players would be saved for that demanding task while a separate national squad under the direction of DR. RUDOLF KRAUSE would be created specifically just for the Moscow Summer Games. And, thus, decorated players such as veteran goalkeeper JUERGEN CROY of FC Sachsenring Zwickau would not get the always-rare opportunity to repeat as Olympic champions.

The gold medal won at the expense of a powerful Polish side in Montreal meant that there would be no need to qualify for the 1980 Summer Games in Moscow but the D.D.R. Olympiaauswahl still contested more than 20 training matches to adequately prepare, nevertheless. More than 30 candidates, most of whom had little or no senior international experience in advance, appeared in these matches hoping for a place on the final Olympic squad. Even after the official roster was announced, the only player who had gotten more than ten games for the senior national team ahead of the Olympic tournament in the U.S.S.R. was FC Carl Zeiss Jena midfielder RUEDIGER SCHNUPHASE, the 26-year-old veteran of the World Cup who had already collected 20 of what would be a total of 45 caps for East Germany in his career.

The Deutsche Demokratische Republik was actually knocked out of the running for the European Championships to be hosted by Italy (and eventually won by West Germany) early — by November of 1979. And so the East Germans might have elected to fortify the D.D.R. Olympiaauswahl on its way to Moscow with the late additions of at least a few highly-experienced senior players such as Croy but Krause, perhaps wisely, chose not to mess around with whatever team chemistry that might have been established heretofore.

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May 7, 1980 — Four potential candidates to defend the Olympic gold medal won by Deutsche Demokratische Republik at the ’76 Summer Games in Montreal — (left to right) midfielder JUERGEN BAEHRINGER (FC Karl Marx Stadt), defender DIETER STROZNIAK (FC Chemie Halle), goalkeeper BODO RUDWALEIT (Dynamo Berlin) and defender FRANK UHLIG (FC Karl Marx Stadt) — walk off the field after East Germany and the visiting Soviet Union finished all square at 2-2 in front of a reported crowd of 20,000 Zuschauer at the Ostseestadion in the Baltic Sea port city of Rostock.

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