Friday, June 13, 2014

The birth of the Red Devils: the Évence Coppée Trophy (1904)

Pre-match team picture. Left: team Belgium; right: team France;
in the middle: referee John C. Keene, posing with the match ball.

The day was 1 May 1904. The place was the Stade du Vivier d'Oie ("Goose Pond Stadium") in Uccle near Brussels. 1,500 fans had showed up to see Belgium's national football team play against France. It was a historic moment for several reasons: Not only was it the first official match played by either team, but it was also the first-ever match between two independent European countries.

Both teams played in the classical 2-3-5 "Pyramid" formation, widely used since the 1870s. The match ended 3-3, with two of the Belgian goals scored by Georges Quéritet, who remarkably never played another match for the national team.

As the score was even at full-time and no extra time was foreseen, the match ended in a draw and no trophy was awarded.

Only twenty days after the match, Belgium and France would join five other Western European countries in founding the international association football federation FIFA.

As of 6 September 2013, France and Belgium had played 72 games against each other, with 29 Belgian wins, 24 French wins and 19 draws.

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