The Night the Football Association of England saluted the Nazis and toasted Hitler - Wednesday 4th December 1935

Many years ago I posted to the site an article relating to the Clegg Family of Sheffield and also one that covered the life and achievements of Sir Charles Clegg who was the first person to be awarded a knighthood for his services to football.

But what I did not disclose in the article is an event that threw a dark shadow over his legacy.

The starting point was an international football match that took place on  Wednesday 4th December 1935, at White Hart Lane, London between  England and  Germany Prior to the match the Football Association approved the flying of the swastika flag, at the home of one Europe's leading Jewish clubs . And when the teams took to the pitch the German team who were all amateurs gave the Nazi salute. There is a photograph of this event but unfortunately it is copyrighted by Popperfoto via Getty Images and so I am unable to show it. As an aside, Getty Images have put this disclaimer "Please note: images depicting historical events may contain themes, or have descriptions, that do not reflect current understanding. They are provided in a historical context" And Getty Images will still make money from them!

Needless to say the actions of the Football Association and the German football authorities aroused strong opposition  in the T.U.C. and Jewish circles (see below). They also were the first football team to have a constant bodyguard of Scotland Yard detectives-a distinction usually reserved for Royalty and Cabinet Ministers

England won the match 3 - 0 and there are some really good match reports on-line and so I will not replicate them here.

But it was the events of that evening that proved even more shameful if that was possible. 

The Manchester Guardian dated Thursday 5th December 1935 carried this report.

It is clear that the Football Association had no idea of what was happening in Germany in December 1935. Or did they and chose to ignore it? But the fact is "that as one they raised their arms in the Nazi salute" And then the vice president of the Football Association Mr. W, Pickford gave the toast to Herr Hitler. The response from their guests was a rousing rendition of the Nazi Anthem "Horst Wessel." The Football Association concluded that this was a momentous and happy visit and then proceeded to shower their guests with souvenirs and mementos. It was truth be told a very cordial affair.    

The response of Sir Walter Citrine to Sir Charles Clegg's criticism and anger is both brief and eloquent .

"Before speaking of such matters in public, he should make himself fully conversant with the real facts of the matter" 

I could not put it better. As later events were to show the Football Association were out of their depth in December 1935 and so might say have been ever since. 


The Guardian dated 5th December 1935

UK Census 


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This page was last updated on 18/12/22 13:05