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A new world

Football

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Gooooal! Football became an Olympic sport at the Paris 1900 Games, with women joining in at Atlanta 1996. In Rio, 16 countries will battle for the men’s title and 12 for the women’s gold medals. Matches are played in seven stadiums across the country.
Spectator's Guide - Football
  • Football

Countries

Athletes

Events

23 611 2

Schedule & Results

Schedule & Results

Football

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August21
Date Event Venue Status

About

About

Aim of the game

Two teams of 11 players must try to put the ball in their opponent’s goal, while defending their own. Only one player on each team, the goalkeeper, may touch the ball with their hands and arms

Why should you watch this?

To see the stars of tomorrow: previous Olympic Games have featured Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Fabio Cannavaro and Neymar

Rules
  • Free-kick

    Free-kick

    Depending on the offence, can be ‘direct’ (can score directly from free-kick) or ‘indirect’ (ball must touch another player before a goal can be scored)

  • Offside

    Offside

    If a player is ahead of the ball and nearer to the opposition’s goal line than the second-to-last opponent when the ball is played by a teammate, they are in an offside position – but the referee may judge that the player is not 'interfering with play'

  • Penalty shoot-out

    Penalty shoot-out

    If a knock-out match finishes tied after 30 minutes of extra time, each team takes five penalty kicks. If still level, they take ‘sudden-death’ penalties

Impress your friends

  • In a form of football played in ancient China, leather balls were filled with feathers and hair

    In a form of football played in ancient China, leather balls were filled with feathers and hair

  • Football became so violent in medieval England – where rival towns would play each other in the streets, using a pig's bladder – that it was banned for over 300 years

    Football became so violent in medieval England – where rival towns would play each other in the streets, using a pig's bladder – that it was banned for over 300 years

  • The game was formalised in English schools in the 19th century, when football and rugby were split into distinct sports

    The game was formalised in English schools in the 19th century, when football and rugby were split into distinct sports

  • The women's competition was first included in the Olympic programme at the Atlanta 1996 Games

    The women's competition was first included in the Olympic programme at the Atlanta 1996 Games

  • Hungary’s legendary 1950s team known as the ‘Magical Magyars’ emerged at the Helsinki 1952 Olympic Games, when the iconic Ferenc Puskás led them to gold

    Hungary’s legendary 1950s team known as the ‘Magical Magyars’ emerged at the Helsinki 1952 Olympic Games, when the iconic Ferenc Puskás led them to gold

  • Nigeria were fairy-tale champions at Atlanta 1996, coming back from 3-1 down to beat Brazil in the semi-finals, then overturning a 2-1 deficit against Argentina in the final

    Nigeria were fairy-tale champions at Atlanta 1996, coming back from 3-1 down to beat Brazil in the semi-finals, then overturning a 2-1 deficit against Argentina in the final

  • Despite losing star striker Abby Wambach to injury just before Beijing 2008, the USA women pulled together to win a third Olympic title, beating Brazil 1-0 in extra-time

    Despite losing star striker Abby Wambach to injury just before Beijing 2008, the USA women pulled together to win a third Olympic title, beating Brazil 1-0 in extra-time

  • European teams won 17 of the 20 men’s competitions up to 1992, but have not won since

    European teams won 17 of the 20 men’s competitions up to 1992, but have not won since

  • The men's tournament has been won six times by teams from the American continent: Canada, Uruguay (twice), Argentina (twice) and Mexico

    The men's tournament has been won six times by teams from the American continent: Canada, Uruguay (twice), Argentina (twice) and Mexico

  • An African team is yet to win the FIFA World Cup, but the continent has produced two men’s Olympic champions – Nigeria in 1996 and Cameroon in 2000

    An African team is yet to win the FIFA World Cup, but the continent has produced two men’s Olympic champions – Nigeria in 1996 and Cameroon in 2000

  • USA has dominated the five women's Olympic tournaments to date, winning gold four times and finishing second to Norway at Sydney 2000

    USA has dominated the five women's Olympic tournaments to date, winning gold four times and finishing second to Norway at Sydney 2000

  • Brazil's Cristiane is the leading goal-scorer in the women's Olympic competition with 12 – five at Athens 2004, five at Beijing 2008 and two at London 2012

    Brazil's Cristiane is the leading goal-scorer in the women's Olympic competition with 12 – five at Athens 2004, five at Beijing 2008 and two at London 2012

  • The Olympic tournament is the only major international football competition Brazil’s men have yet to win

    The Olympic tournament is the only major international football competition Brazil’s men have yet to win

  • Uruguay's team is sometimes known as La Celeste Olímpica in reference to their Olympic triumphs in 1924 and 1928

    Uruguay's team is sometimes known as La Celeste Olímpica in reference to their Olympic triumphs in 1924 and 1928

  • At the Paris 1900 Games, Great Britain was represented by Upton Park FC and the amateur team from east London won the gold medal

    At the Paris 1900 Games, Great Britain was represented by Upton Park FC and the amateur team from east London won the gold medal

Tournament

Teams earn three points for a win, one for a draw, none for a defeat.

The men’s tournament has an age limit of 23, but each squad is allowed three ‘over-age’ players (the women’s tournament has no age restrictions).

Duration

Matches consist of two halves of 45 minutes, plus time added by the referee for stoppages.

Players

Goalkeeper: the last line of defence, usually tall and agile, they are allowed to use their hands inside the penalty area.

Defender: tasked with stopping the opposition from scoring, must be strong tacklers and have good positional sense. Centre-backs are normally tall and good at heading, while full-backs/wing-backs are often lighter and more attack-minded.

Midfielder: these positions can include covering midfielders (who protect the defence), playmakers (who launch attacks from deep), dynamic box-to-box players, wingers and attacking midfielders.

Forward: come in all styles and sizes – big and strong, small and fast – scoring goals is their job.

Officials

Referee: ensures the game is played according to the laws, using a whistle to stop and start play. Can show yellow (caution) or red (dismissal) cards to players who break the rules.

Assistant Referee: known as ‘linesmen’ they help the referee enforce the rules, particularly offside, raising their flag to signal an offence.

Ball

Circumference must be 68-70cm, weight must be 410-450g at start of match.

Updates

Stats

Top Medalists

Men
HUN
HUN
3 1 1 5
URS
URS
2 0 3 5
BRA
BRA
0 3 2 5
Women
USA
USA
4 1 0 5
GER
GER
0 0 3 3
NOR
NOR
1 0 1 2

Countries

Athletes

Athletes & Teams

Gender

Gender
Woman 43
Men 57
Women
Men

Age Range

Age Range
Under 15 0
16 - 20 13
21 - 25 62
26 - 30 20
31 - 40 6
Over 40 0
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