Cold War football: Soviet defence and Yugoslav attack following the Tito-Stalin split of 1948

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This essay explores the symbolic role played by football in the Tito-Stalin Split (1948-1953). In particular, it looks at the Yugoslav national team’s victory over the Soviet Union at the 1952 Olympics in Finland. It asks how Yugoslav sports administrators, athletes and the press negotiated the transition from a position of affectionate sporting emulation of the USSR, to one of hostile opposition. Both regimes paid close attention to international sporting competition and its potential propaganda benefits. Shedding light on an early intra-socialist rupture, this case deserves to be considered alongside better known instances of sporting conflict in the Cold War.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1736-1758
Number of pages23
JournalEurope-Asia Studies
Issue number10
Early online date29 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2016


  • Football
  • Tito-Stalin Split
  • Yugoslavia
  • Soviet Union
  • 1952 Olympic Games
  • Cominform

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