Apart from the first Games held in 1896, and the 1932 edition, soccer has been included in every summer Olympics. In Rio 2016, the 16 male and 12 female teams will play for Gold across 7 venues in 6 different host cities, with many of the stadiums used at the FIFA World Cup in 2014 to be graced once again.
The tournament will take a form similar to the World Cup format, just with fewer teams. The men’s teams will be split into 4 groups of 4, and play each team in their group once. The top 2 from each group will then progress to the quarter-finals. With only 12 teams in the women’s competition, they will be split into 3 groups of 4, with the top 2 from each group progressing to the quarters, as well as the 2 best 3rd ranked teams.
As a way of ensuring the FIFA World Cup remains the sport's pinnacle male competition, football’s governing body struck a deal with the Olympic Organising Committee effectively turning the Olympic competition into an under 23 event. As of 1996, each team was then allowed 3 players over the age of 23 to ensure interest remained high.
For example, in 2012 Ryan Giggs (aged 39) lined up as the captain of Great Britain whilst Thiago Silva (aged 28) led his Brazilian team to the Silver medal. This rule, however, does not exist in the female competition with each country allowed to pick their strongest squad regardless of age.
Many teams have won the Gold medal over the years, especially with the under 23 rule applied in the men’s competition. Across both men’s and women’s history, the USA leads the all-time medal tally with 4 Golds, 2 Silvers and a Bronze. Hungary and Great Britain both have 3 Golds, whilst 2008 male champions Argentina and Uruguay both have 2 Golds.
In 2016 and on home soil, the Brazilians will look to make up for their capitulation in the 2014 male World Cup and win their first ever football Gold medal (they currently have 5 Silvers and 2 Bronze), whilst Australia will look to win their first medal of any variety in the world game.
|2012 LONDON||MEXICO||BRAZIL||SOUTH KOREA|
|1988 SEOUL||SOVIET UNION||BRAZIL||WEST GERMANY|
|1984 LOS ANGELES||FRANCE||BRAZIL||YUGOSLAVIA|
*The first women's event was held in 1996 in Atlanta.