Footloose at the Olympics

India withdrew from the 1950 World Cup in Brazil because its players weren’t allowed to play barefoot. Well, that was the rumor—one which has become footballing folklore. Unfortunately, it wasn’t true.

During the 1948 Summer Olympics in London, the country’s national squad actually did play shoe-less (they lost to France in the first round) but afterward, FIFA told them they wouldn’t be able to play in the World Cup two years later unless they put their boots on.

But then India withdrew from the competition. According to Sports Illustrated India, the All India Football Federation cited “disagreements over team selection and insufficient practice time.”

It turned out the AIFF didn’t grasp the importance of the World Cup back then. To them, the Olympics was everything.

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