Olympic Soccer - Men
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About Olympic Soccer - Men
Olympic Soccer - Men History, Format, Organization, Media Coverage
The men’s Olympic Games football tournament is one of the oldest disciplines in the quadrennial competition. Football has been considered as an Olympic sport since 1900. With the only exception of the 1932 edition, the football tournament has been played without any interruptions.
The first edition of the Olympic Football program took place in 1900 with only three teams. Nowadays, sixteen teams battle for the gold medal every four years. The host nation is automatically awarded a spot in the tournament, just like in the FIFA World Cup. In 1908, the United Kingdom became the first host nation to be crowned the champion.
The number of teams each confederation presents in any given Olympic tournament changes through time. The host nation is automatically qualified for the tournament, while the remaining 15 spots are determined through qualifications. These qualifying tournaments are U23, U21, or U20 competitions depending on the association.
The sixteen teams are drawn into four groups of four, with the top two sides qualifying for the quarter-finals. The group stage follows a single round-robin format and the knockout stage consists of one-off matches. Nations participating in the Olympic Games football tournament must be composed of U23 players, with only three over-age footballers permitted for each squad. Despite this restriction, the event has been blessed with a number of world-talented players.
For example, Rio 2016 saw Brazil claim the gold medal for the first time in history. A Canarinha won the title by beating Germany in the final via penalties after drawing 1-1 in normal time. At the heart of this success was Brazilian sensation Neymar as he scored both their only goal in open play and the winning spot-kick. However, the Selecao ace was not the only superstar to have graced the Olympics.
Lev Yashin, Andrea Pirlo, Ronaldinho, Samuel Eto’o, Xavi, and Lionel Messi are just a few iconic names to have earned medals on this stage -- be it gold, silver, or bronze. It is for this reason, as well as the tremendous popularity of the Olympics in general, that fans tune in to their TV broadcasters, live streaming options, or in-demand services in large numbers to catch the action once every four years.