Football / Soccer at the Olympics
Football (known as soccer in the USA) was the first team sport added to the Olympics, in 1900. There is also evidence that football was demonstrated in 1896.
At first only a men's competition was included. A women's Olympic football event was only added in 1996. The men's teams are restricted to under-23 players with a maximum of three overage players allowed, while there are no age restrictions for the women's teams.
- The 1900 and 1904 Olympic football tournaments were originally composed of demonstration matches, but have subsequently been upgraded to official status by the IOC with medals attributed to the teams based upon the match results (there is also evidence that a football demonstration occurred in 1896).
- The United States had two of the three football teams at the 1904 Games, taking the silver and bronze medals.
- In 1920, Czechoslovakia abandoned the final Olympic football match against Belgium after 40 minutes with the Belgium leading 2–0. Czechoslovakia were disqualified, and a mini-tournament to figure out the other medalists was held, with Spain beating the Netherlands for second place 3–1.
- The 1932 Games was not supposed to include football as part of the program, due to the low popularity of football in the United States. The world governing body for Football (FIFA) and the IOC also disagreed over the status of amateur players, and so football was dropped from the Games. This led to FIFA organizing their own World Cup, which was first held in 1930.
- The highest goal scorer in an Olympic football tournament was Hungarian Ferenc Bene, who scored 12 goals in Tokyo 1964. This beat the record by Sophus Nielsen, who scored 11 goals for Denmark in 1908 (including 10 goals in their 17-1 match against France).
- In 1972, the third place match between the Soviet Union and East Germany was a 2–2 tie after extra time had expired. Both teams were awarded bronze medals.
- In 1984, in a compromise with FIFA, professional soccer players were allowed to compete, but only if they hadn't previously been part of a World Cup event.
- In 1992, World Cup athletes were allowed to compete in soccer for the first time, but only three players over the age of 23 are allowed on each team. This effectively made the Olympic event an under-23 championship.
- In 1996, the American women's teams won the first-ever women's soccer event.
- The best all-time performing football player at the Olympic Games is USA player Christie Rampone who has won 3 golds and 1 silver. See more on the Greatest Soccer Players at the Olympics.