Arsenal To Boycott Europe, On This Day, 22nd January 1980


This pain might never have happened

Five years before circumstances forced Uefa to ban English clubs, Arsenal were prepared to end any aspirations of glory for the sake of politics. Jimmy Carter “asked” the US Olympic Committee to withdraw from the Moscow Olympics in Summer 1980 following the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan. The British Prime Minister and Parliament backed this policy but crucially the British Olympic Association (BOA) did not and Britain participated that Summer.

There was a huge presumption in this gesture. Perhaps Arsenal had discussed the matter with the governing body but it seems unlikely based on the words below. Uefa had form in “fixing” draws so that politics did not interfere with their competitions. In 1968, the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia to crush the Prague Spring saw preparations made to partition the draws so that political will was not offended.

Fortunately, this became a moot point. Arsenal disposed quite comfortably of IFK Gothenburg 5 – 1 on aggregate but Dynamo Moscow were beaten by FC Nantes 3 – 4 over the two legs.

22011980 Boycott