Although football can trace its roots back to ancient China, it was in England that the modern game was born, before going on to become the most popular sport in the world. In the streets of England in medieval times, large crowds of people would gather together to drag a pig’s bladder to markers situated at opposing ends of a town to score a goal. Such events were well known for being as violent as they were popular. In the 16th century, English schools established the modern football codes, thereby transforming mob riots into a proper sport.
Brief overview of the rules
The women’s competition is organised in exactly the same way as the FIFA tournaments, played on a grass pitch with two teams of 11 in matches split into two 45-minute halves. The same rules apply to the men’s game, but with a slight difference in the composition of the teams. Indeed, the team can only include players from the U-23 squad, with a maximum of three additional older players. Football is also the only sport in which the competition starts before the opening ceremony because there are so many matches. That is why, since the Sydney Olympics in 2000, the tournament has started two days before the Games are officially opened.
Football was included in the Olympic programme very early on, back at the Paris Games in 1900, and has been played at every edition since. Women’s football made its Olympic debut at the Atlanta Games in 1996. Europe always seemed to have the upper hand in the sport until 1992, when Spain became the last nation from the old continent to win the gold medal in the men’s game.
Many footballing greats have taken part in the Olympic Games, including Ferenc Puskás in 1952, Lev Yachine in 1956, Samuel Eto’o in 2000, Lionel Messi in 2008 and most recently Neymar in 2016.
International federation : Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA)