Sunday, October 18, 2015

Soccer Memories-Part 29: Tales of Defection: The Cold War’s Impact on the Game

Tales of Defection: The Cold War’s Impact on the Game

The end of the Great War in Europe ushered in another War between competing ideologies. While this new War was not fought on the battlefield, a new ideological War was being waged and Football was not immune to it.
For over 40 years until the Fall of the Berlin Wall, Citizens from the Eastern Bloc form all walks of life and professions (which included many footballers) would risk life, prison sentences and permanent disconnect from their families and respective nations to obtain basic freedoms as well as professional opportunities in the West befitting their talents.
There are many tales of players spanning these decades that made these life and career changing decisions. This includes some of the greatest players of the game as well as relatively unknown ones.
The first case of these defections started as early as 1949 and involved one of the greatest players of the game, the Hungarian (as well as Czechoslovakian) International László (Ladislao) Kubala. After the Full Communist takeover of Hungary in 1949, he fled to Austria. From there he made his way to Spain and joined Barcelona. After serving the one-year suspension (this would turn out to be the customary suspension for the defectors), he excelled for his new club and earned trophies, fame and fortune along the way. Spain under General Franco would use his example as propaganda as well. Kubala became the trailblazer for future defections. He was a visible example of what life could be like in the West for those who were able to export their talent.

Photo From: Onze-Mondial, Issue 53, June 1993
(Ladislao Kubala at Barcelona)

Less than a decade later, the Hungarian Revolution in the Fall of 1956 would pave the way for the second wave of defections.
This would involve the greatest ever player to defect, Hungary’s Captain, the ‘Galloping Major’ Ferenc Puskás.
Hungary’s Honved, which was the backbone of the Mighty Magyars’ National Team, had been outside of the country in preparation for their upcoming Champions Cup Match in Spain vs. Athletic Bilbao. Due to the political events, they delayed their return. Eventually many returned home, but Puskas, along with Sándor Kocsis and Zoltán Czibor decided to remain in the West, as did the Honved Manager Jenő Kalmár. After their suspensions, Puskas joined the great Real Madrid side of Di Stefano, while Kubala convinced Kocsis and Czibor to join him at Barcelona.

Photo From: Placar, Issue 1302, January 2007
(Ferenc Puskas)

Photo From: World Soccer, April 1999
(Sandor Kocsis)

It would be another decade when another prominent Hungarian International would defect. Ferencváros’ Zoltán Varga fled while with the Hungary Olympic squad at Guadalajara during the 1968 Mexico Olympics Games. He had defected with the belief he was to be offered a contract with Belgium’s Standard Liège. However, upon his arrival the deal was called off. He subsequently played in West Germany with Hertha Berlin and Borussia Dortmund, with a spell in between with Aberdeen and Ajax Amsterdam, while serving a ban in West Germany for taking part in a bribery scandal.

Photo From: Fussball Magazin, Issue 6, September October 1977
(Zoltan Varga)

Poland had to contend with the defection of Polonia Bytom trio of Jan Banaś, Jan Liberda and Norbert Pogrzeba in 1966 before a match vs. Sweden’s IFK Norrköping. Within a year Banaś had returned and was pardoned by the Polish authorities, while Liberda and Pogrzeba had a spell in Dutch Football with AZ Alkmaar and NAC Breda respectively.
The frequency of defections increased in the 70s especially concerning former East Germans enticed with not only the prospect of freedom but higher wages and standards of the Bundesliga.
The East German U-21 pair of goalkeeper Jürgen Pahl and Norbert Nachtweih (both of Chemie Halle) took the opportunity to flee while on tour with the U-21 squad in Turkey in November 1976.
Pahl stated that there were no political reasons for their act just the need to earn better wages.
They fled to Turkey and from there to West Germany where they joined Eintracht Frankfurt (after having served the obligatory one-year suspension). Nachtweih would go on to play for Bayern Munich and many consider that he would have been capped by West Germany had he not already represented the East German U-21s.

Photo From: programs\1982.03.03. Tottenham Hotspur - Eintracht Frankfurt (Cup Winners Cup)
(Jurgen Pahl)

Photo From: Fussball Magazin, March April 1983
(Norbert Nachtweih at Baywern Munich)

Hungary’s Lajos Kü fled through Yugoslavia in January 1977 and found his way to Belgium’s Club Brugge. He reached the Champions Cup Final with his new club vs. Liverpool in 1978. Things took a turn to the farcical, when the match was broadcast in Hungary. The Television commentator would pronounce his name with a French accent to draw away the audience to any reference of Kü being Hungarian.

Photo From: Onze, Issue 29, May 1978
(Graeme Souness and Lajos Ku, May 10, 1978, Champions Cup, Liverpool 1-Club Brugge 0)

East Germany’s then Under-21 Manager Jörg Berger took advantage of a match in Yugoslavia to flee and find his way to West Germany in 1979.
He would go on to have a long managerial career in the Bundesliga, but was threatened by the East German State Security, the Stasi. It is alleged that he even survived an attempt to poison him.
Once in an interview he brushed aside the pressures associated with Management. He recounted his own escape through Yugoslavia with a false passport and said that the Yugoslavian border agent had recognized him but still allowed him to pass. Berger considered that to be real pressure not the stress of losing matches.

Photo From: World Soccer, December 1992
(Jorg Berger)

The East German Lutz Eigendorf used a friendly between Dinamo Berlin and West Germany’s Kaiserslautern to make his way to the West. On March 20, 1979, after the friendly while the squad was traveling back to the East, he fled at a stop and took a taxi back to Kaiserslautern to join them. It has been suggested that the Stasi took this defection the hardest as Dinamo Berlin were under their control.
On March 5th, 1983, Eigendorf was involved in a car accident and died two days later on March 7th  aged 26. Many were suspicious of the circumstances of the accident and accused the Stasi of having staged it.  In 2010 a former East German spy confessed that he had been ordered by the Stasi to murder Eigendorf but he had not done so.
Romanian defector and Rapid Bucharest defender Dan Coe similarly died under suspicious circumstances. He had been granted authorization by the Romanian Government to travel to Belgium in 1980 (He had played at Antwerp in the early 70s).
From Belgium he went to West Germany and sought political asylum and lived in Köln. On October 19, 1981, he was found dead in his apartment. It was unclear whether he had committed suicide or murdered, but many accused the Romanian State Security of the latter. Shortly before his death, he had given an interview on Radio Free Europe.
Other Romanian defectors such as Viorel Năstase and Marcel Răducanu (both from the Army Team Steaua Bucharest) and Alexandru Sătmăreanu were fortunate in avoiding the same fate.
Năstase escaped in the Fall of 1979 when Steaua were involved in the Cup Winners Cup competition vs. Switzerland’s Young Boys Bern. After his suspension he lined for Bundesliga’s TSV 1860 Munich and also had a spell in Italy with Catanzaro.
Dinamo Bucharest’s Alexandru Sătmăreanu defected to the West in 1980 and joined West Germany’s Stuttgart. He received a ten-year Prison sentence for his action. In West Germany, he reverted to his original name: Alexander Szamatari (since he was an ethnic Hungarian).
Marcel Răducanu defected in the August of 1981, when the Romanian National team played a Friendly vs. Borussia Dortmund. He would go on to serve Dortmund until 1988. Since Răducanu had the rank of Captain in the Romanian Army, he was sentenced to six years in Prison in Absentia.
The East German and Dinamo Dresden trio of Gerd Weber, Matthias Müller and Peter Kotte were not as lucky. Stasi arrested them at the airport in January 1981 before a Dinamo Dresden trip to Argentina for Friendly matches.
Weber had been in contact with FC Köln and made the plans. He was sentenced to a term of 7 years and 7 months. He was released in 1989.
Kotte and Müller were banned and dismissed from Dresden, but played in the Lower Leagues.

Photo From: Mondial, Old Series, Issue 1, February 1977
(Dinamo Dresden squad, 1976/77, Matthias Muller is the standing on the farthest left, Gerd Weber is standing (third from the right), Peter Kotte is sitting (third from left))

This did not deter the Dinamo Berlin duo of Falko Götz and Dirk Schlegel to escape the East. Dinamo Berlin were due to play Partizan Belgrade on November 2, 1983 for the Champions Cup.
The duo went to the American Embassy in Belgrade and sought asylum and made their way to West Germany to join Bayer Leverkusen.

Photo From: Fussball Magazin, Issue 8, August 1986
(Dirk Schlegel)

In June 1982, Polish and Slask Wroclaw goalkeeper Jacek Jarecki was with the National Team in preparations for the World Cup in Spain and had an outside chance of being one of the reserve goalkeepers. He fled from the Team Hotel to seek asylum in West Germany. He joined Fortuna Dusseldorf and later had a spell at Fortuna Köln.
The situation for Polish winger Cezary Tobollik was different. He fled while his club Cracovia Krakow were in Graz, Austria in the Summer of 1983. From there he joined West Germany’s Eintracht Frankfurt. To avoid the usual one-year suspension, Frankfurt paid his old club £6,500 cash as well as £25,000 of Football and Ice Hockey material.
There were also many defections towards the end of the 80s just before the Berlin Wall fell.

Photo From: Onze, Hors serie 29, 1986
(Cezary Tobollik at RC Lens, 1986/87)

Jürgen Sparwasser, who scored East Germany’s winning goal vs. their Western neighbors during the 1974 World Cup, fled in January 1988 while in Saarbrucken, West Germany for a Veterans Tournament. He walked into a police Station and sought asylum.
Czechoslovakia and Slavia Prague duo of Lubos Kubik and Ivo Knoflicek defected while on tour with their club in West Germany in the summer of 1988.
By the start of the following season, Kubik was at Fiorentina, while Knoflicek was at St. Pauli in West Germany.

Photo From: Onze-Mondial, Issue 16, May 1990
(Lubos Kubik at Fiorentina, 1989/90)

On November 12, 1988 at Milan, Poland played against an Italian League XI in a Charity match. From there Poland’s Andrzej Rudy fled to West Germany to seek asylum and joined FC Köln.
On December 29, 1988, Romania and Steaua Bucharest’s talented Libero Miodrag Beloidedici (who was an ethnic Serb) fled his homeland for Yugoslavia and joined Red Star of Belgrade.
When he won the Champions Cup in 1991 with Red Star, he became the first ever player to win the trophy with two different clubs (having previously won with Steaua Bucharest in 1986). Given the fact that he was in the Romanian Army, he received a ten year Prison sentence in abstentia.

Photo From: Onze-Mondial, Issue 28, May 1991
(Miodrag Beloidedici at Red Star Belgrade)

In July 1989, less than four months before the Fall of the Wall, the East German Axel Kruse of Hansa Rostock defected in Denmark where his club was playing an Intertoto match vs. BK Copenhagen. He found his way to West Berlin and joined Hertha.

Photo From: Fussball Magazin, Issue 4, April 1990
(Axel Kruse on top of THE WALL)

Similarly, Rapid Bucharest’s little-known trio of Lucian Ilie, Gabriel Ciopolnea and Alexandru Aprodu defected while in Sweden, where Rapid was playing an Intertoto Cup match.
The Fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 marked the beginning of the end of the Cold War and Communism. As the months passed, new regimes and political changes and openness paved the way for the pardon and re-integration of those who had fled. It also started an era of massive transfers of Eastern European players to the richer Western Leagues. It was not the fact that they were free to do so, but in many cases the Eastern clubs were forced to sell to survive in a new Political system and climate, as they could no longer rely on the state to fund and support them.
In an age where bigger Western clubs are poaching talented adolescents from Eastern Europe and Eastern European Clubs themselves are lining up Brazilians, this reality during the Cold War years would seem like an alternate universe from a science fiction novel.
It would seem unimaginable to restrain and imprison (Literally and Figuratively) the talented from better opportunities in the name of ideology, but such was the world of many generations of Footballers.

1- Despite the Fall of Communism, Eastern Europe’s poorest Nation Albania was still steeped in Socialism and was the slowest to adapt to these changes. As a result, up to the early 1990s, there would be scattered reports of players going missing and seeking asylum while on tours.
Albanian International Rudi Vata is such a case. He sought political asylum in France in 1991 while with the Albanian U-21 squad. He joined Le Mans and eventually joined Celtic Glasgow.

2-For more in depth Analysis of Polish Football Defectors, please read the excellent article by Mr Christopher Lash ( @rightbankwarsaw)

2-For more in depth Analysis of East German Football Defectors, please read the excellent article by Mr Cristian Nyari ( @Cnyari)

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

New Addition: Match Programmes-Part one

1- Official Match Programme Name: Scotland v. Wales
Match date: February 28, 1984
Language/Nation: English/Scotland

Photo From: Scotland v. Wales, 1984

2- Official Match Programme Name: Wales v Northern Ireland
Match date: May 22, 1984
Language/Nation: English/Wales

Photo From: Wales v Northern Ireland, 1984

3- Official Match Programme Name: Bayern Munich v. CSKA Sofia
Match date: September 16, 1987
Language/Nation: German/West Germany

Photo From: Bayern Munich v. CSKA Sofia, 1987

4- Official Match Programme Name: Liverpool v. CSKA Sofia
Match date: March 3, 1981
Language/Nation: English/England

Photo From: Liverpool v. CSKA Sofia, 1981

5- Official Match Programme Name: Rangers - Red Star Belgrade
Match date: November 4, 1964  (Champions Cup)
Language/Nation: English/Scotland

6- Official Match Programme Name: Leeds United - Valencia (Fairs Cup)
Match date: February 2, 1966
Language/Nation: English/England

7- Official Match Programme Name: Arsenal - Beveren (Fairs Cup)
Match date: December 2, 1970
Language/Nation: English/England

8- Official Match Programme Name: Ipswich Town - Feyenoord (UEFA Cup)
Match date: October 1, 1975

Language/Nation: English/England

Photo From: Ipswich Town - Feyenoord (UEFA Cup), 1975

New Addition: Season and Tournament Previews / Guides / Retrospectives, Part one

Another new feature that I will be starting on this blog is to upload the entire issues of particular magazines (or special issues) that are season previews and/or World Cup and European Championship previews

1- Magazine Name: Onze-Mondial
Issues: Onze, Hors serie 33, 1988
           Onze-Mondial, Hors Serie 1, 1989
Language/Nation: French/France
           The season Preview as well as the season retrospective of the
            French league season 1988/89

Photo From: Onze, Hors serie 33, 1988

Photo From: Onze-Mondial, Hors Serie 1, 1989

2- Magazine Name: Don Balon
Issue: Extra Liga 88/89
Language/Nation: Spanish/Spain
The Spanish 1988/89 season preview and guide

Photo From: Don Balon-Extra Liga 88/89

3- Magazine Name: Guerin Sportivo
Issue: La Grande Storia Del Calcio Italiana-1956-1957
Language/Nation: Italian/Italy
The season retrospective of the Serie A season 1956/57

Photo From: Guerin Sportivo-La Grande Storia Del Calcio Italiana-1956-1957

4- Magazine Name: Placar
Issue: Issue 1096, Setembro 1994, Guia do Brasileiro 1994
Language/Nation: Portuguese / Brazil
The 1994 Brazilian season preview and guide

Photo From: Placar-Guia do Brasileiro 1994

5- Magazine Name: Miroir du footbal
Issue: June 1, 1974
Language/Nation: French/France
           The 1974 World Cup Preview

Photo From: Miroir du footbal _ 1 juin 1974

6- Magazine Name: Kicker Sportsmagazin
Issue: Kicker_WM-Sonderheft_1998
Language/Nation: German / West Germany
The 1998 World Cup Preview

Photo From: Kicker_WM-Sonderheft_1998

7- Magazine Name: Onze-Mondial
Issue: Hors Serie 22, April 1996
Language/Nation: French/France

                     The 1996 UEFA European Championship Preview

Photo From: Onze-Mondial, Hors Serie 22, April 1996

8- Magazine Name: France Football
Issue: Issue 2259, July 25, 1989
Language/Nation: French/France
           The season Preview of the French league season 1989/90

Photo From: France Football, Issue 2259, July 25, 1989