This Europe: Cold War finally ends for water polo teams

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The Independent Online

More than four decades after it began, one of the most famous water polo matches in history came to a symbolic end at the weekend, when the Hungarian and former Soviet players reunited to close a chapter in the history of the Cold War.

More than four decades after it began, one of the most famous water polo matches in history came to a symbolic end at the weekend, when the Hungarian and former Soviet players reunited to close a chapter in the history of the Cold War.

The water polo duel between Hungary and the Soviet Union at the 1956 Olympic Games was so fierce it became known as the "Blood in the Water" match. Rife with political symbolism, it took place shortly after Soviet forces had invaded Hungary to crush the country's anti-communist revolution.

The referee called off the match, played in Melbourne, Australia, with less than one minute to go, fearing the bloody fight in the pool would spread to the stands. Hungary, which was ahead 4-0 when the match was called off, was declared the winner and went on to win the Olympic gold medal. On Saturday, 12 of the players involved in the match – eight Hungarians and four ex-Soviets – met in Budapest to reminisce.

The meeting, the first between the players since the match, was organised by the makers of Freedom's Fury, a documentary film about the match and the Hungarian revolution.

Recalling the tense match, Gyorgy Karpati, 66, said he and his Hungarian team-mates saw the Soviet players as symbols of an oppressive regime.

Hungary's Dezso Gyarmati set the tone for the match by hitting his Soviet defender as he scored the first goal. The main bloodshed occurred when the Hungarian star Ervin Zador, who scored two goals, was punched by Valentin Prokopov, resulting in a deep gash under Zador's right eye.

The documentary's director, Colin Gray,hopes to screen it at the Sundance Film Festival. The director Quentin Tarantino and the actress Lucy Liu each contributed $50,000 (£34,000) to the film's $500,000 budget.

On Saturday, the players discussed medical histories and bodily ailments, but also found some time for friendly arguments.

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