Olympics Sports >> Soccer

Soccer

THE TWO COMPETITIONS

  • 1 men's tournament (16 teams)
  • 1 women's tournament (12 teams)

THE FORMAT

  • Men: In the first round, four groups of four teams each compete for points. The two top placed teams in each group then progress to a knock-out phase from the quarter-finals.
  • Women: There is a first round of three groups of four. The top two and the best two third placed teams then qualify for a knock-out from the quarter-finals.

MILESTONES

16th century

During the Renaissance in Florence a game called "calcio", a direct ancestor of football, is popular.

1846

The first set of rules are drawn up at Cambridge University, England.

1863

The English Football Association (FA) is founded, establishing laws of the game.

1870

The FA decides a team will include 11 players.

1871

Scotland and England play to a 0-0 draw in the first ever international match.

1900

Football makes its debut as an Olympic sport.

1930

The first World Cup is hosted and won by Uruguay.

1958

Brazil wins the first of its five World Cups spurred on by a 17-year-old prodigy by the name of Pele.

1996

The Olympics features its first women's tournament, won by the USA.

2002

Brazil win a record fifth World Cup in Asia, beating Germany 2-0 in the final.

2010

Spain lift the first World Cup on African soil as they triumph over the Netherlands in Johannesburg.

STARS

Pele (Brazil)

The King. Full name Edson Arantes do Nascimento is widely considered as the greatest player of all time after helping Brazil win the World Cup in 1958, 1962 and 1970. He also won two Intercontinental Cups and two Libertadores Cups with Santos. He scored 1,285 goals over a 20-year career and is seen as the symbol of Brazil's golden age.

Diego Maradona (Argentina)

Maradona could do it on his own. He carried Argentina on his diminutive (1m68) shoulders to World Cup victory in 1986 before winning two Italian championships, a Cup and a UEFA Cup, again almost singlehandedly, with modest Napoli. There are those that consider the midfield genius Pele's equal, but Maradona suffered a dramatic fall from grace due to a doping infrigement and cocaine addiction.

Franz Beckenbauer (West Germany)

The Kaiser. Beckenbauer won the World Cup as a player in 1974 and as a coach in 1990. On the field, the defender also helped West Germany win the European Championship in 1972, won three European Cups (now Champions League), 1 Cup Winners' Cup and five West German league titles.

Copyright 2008 Agence France-Presse.

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