Olympic football rules, explained: how men’s and women’s football matches work in Tokyo

The men’s and women’s Olympic football matches are one of the major events on the world football arena.

The operation of the two competitions is similar. This is how they work.

  • Qualifying: Participating countries need to obtain qualifications from their respective regions to participate in the Olympic football championships. Each regional organization decides on its own how the qualifying will take place.
  • The Olympic team draws: According to a random seed draw, the teams that qualify for the Olympic Games will be divided into different groups. The game schedule is predetermined before the draw.
  • Olympic list selection: The head coach of each national team will select 22 football players to participate in the Olympic Games according to the rules of the Olympic roster (see below for more details).

Once the team enters the Olympics, the game will be divided into two stages:

  • group matches: Each team will first play three games in the round robin group stage. Only eight teams advanced from the group stage to the knockout stage.
  • Knockout stage: The competition ended with single-elimination quarter-finals, semi-finals and two medal matches. The semi-final loser meets the semi-final winner in br for a gold/silver medal match and theonze medal match.

All this is straightforward enough. But there are some subtle differences that make these Olympic games different.

more: Complete women’s Olympic football schedule and TV schedule

How many teams are eligible to participate in the Olympics?

As of 2021, the number of teams participating in the men’s and women’s football championships differs:

  • Men’s Olympic Football: 16 teams
  • Women’s Olympic Football: 12 teams

Men’s football is played at every Summer Olympics, and women’s football was first introduced in 1996.

This Women’s competition At the beginning of 1996, there were 8 teams. In 2000, it increased to 10 teams. In 2008, the Beijing Olympic Games expanded to 12 teams. With the development of women’s football worldwide, it seems inevitable to expand to 16 teams.

What is the difference between the Olympic Games and the World Cup?

Both the men’s and women’s FIFA World Cups have witnessed the participation of the best teams and their best players after participating in the qualifying matches of every national team on the planet. This is not the case for the Olympics, which ensures that despite its reputation, the Olympics will never compete with the World Cup.

The FIFA Men’s and Women’s World Cup is characterized by the expansion of the team’s field, which brings the sport’s achievements to its zenith: there are 32 participants in both the men’s and women’s World Cups. The reduction of Olympic venues gives a sense of world champion.

In addition, in the case of only men’s Olympic football games, FIFA and the International Olympic Committee restrict the eligibility of the competition to players 23 years and younger, and only 3 players over 23 years old are allowed to be selected on each list. The club team did not compulsorily release male players to their national team to participate in the men’s Olympics. That’s why you can’t see Lionel Messi playing for Argentina or Neymar for Brazil at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, although they might sprain a few hands if they really want to play there. .

At the same time, the women’s Olympic football championship is characterized by all-high-level national teams.

more: The U.S. women’s national team has a chance to become GOAT

How does each country qualify for Olympic football?

Each region has its own rules to determine how to fill its qualified locations. Most have Olympic qualifiers, some of which are called Under-23 Championships in the case of men.

They will not complicate matters in Europe: they have re-arranged the men’s under-21 European Championships that are regularly held to determine the four European qualifiers for the Olympic Games. They also defeated the top European players in the FIFA Women’s World Cup to fill three seats in the Women’s Olympics (the end of England gave Britain a seat). This is why the last women’s Olympic gold medalist Germany did not participate in the 2021 Olympics.

The following is a breakdown of the global berths for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics:

area Men’s Olympic Berth Women’s Olympic Berth
Africa 3 (Egypt, Côte d’Ivoire, South Africa) 1.5 (Zambia)
Asia 3 (Australia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea) 2 (Australia, China)
Europe 4 (France, Germany, Romania, Spain) 3 (UK, Netherlands, Sweden)
Oceania 1 (New Zealand) 1 (New Zealand)
South America 2 (Brazil, Argentina) 1.5 (Brazil)
North America 2 (Honduras, Mexico) 2 (United States, Canada)

Why are Africa and South America listed as having 1.5 berths each? The semi-recumbent position refers to the playoffs between the two regions. Chile Defeated Cameroon in two games and entered the 2021 Olympics.

In the end, the host country will automatically qualify for the men’s and women’s football championships. Japan There are men’s and women’s football teams participating in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

more: Complete men’s Olympic football schedule and TV schedule

Are there any differences in the rules of Olympic football?

The world football governing body, FIFA, actually holds both men’s and women’s matches at the Olympic Games, so the rules and format of the game are very similar to those of the World Cup and other international matches.

In the group stage, the team wins three points, draws one point, and loses one point. For teams that score in three games, round-robin group stages and even scores, there are tiebreakers, which are used in the following order:

  1. Excellent goal difference (the difference between the number of goals scored and the number of goals conceded) in all group matches;
  2. The most goals scored in all group matches;
  3. The most points obtained in the group match between the relevant teams;
  4. The outstanding goal difference of the relevant team in the group stage;
  5. The most goals scored in the group match between the relevant teams;
  6. The best behavior score related to the yellow and red cards received in all group matches:
  7. Draw lots

Eight teams entered the single-elimination stage from the group stage and decided to participate in the gold/silver medal game and the bronze medal game.

If you really want to delve into all the details of the rules, All 78 pages have been published.

What if the Olympic football match ended in a tie?

In the group stage, a tie after 90 minutes will earn each team a point in their respective group standings.

In the single-elimination rounds, all men’s and women’s matches that are tied after the 90-minute rule will enter a 30-minute overtime period (15 minutes in each quarter). If the tie continues, a penalty shootout will be used to determine the winner.



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