The goal of football is straightforward: to score more goals than the opposition. During the Olympic knockout rounds, teams compete in two 45-minute halves, with extra time and penalty shootouts to decide drawn matches.
Fifteen men’s national teams will qualify through tournaments organized by the six continental confederations and the host nation Japan. The host nation will be joined by 11 women’s national teams, all of whom will qualify through the same process.
A round-robin group stage precedes the knockout stage in both the men’s and women’s competitions. In four-team groups, each team plays once. A win earns three points, a tie earns one end, and a loss earns no points. Each group’s top two teams (along with the top two third-place finishers in the women’s tournament) advance to the knockout rounds, including quarter-finals, semi-finals, and gold and bronze medal matches.
Football has been the only Olympic sport since the Sydney 2000 Games, in which the competition begins before the Opening Ceremony. This is to keep track of a busy schedule and ensure that players get enough rest between games.
Players must have excellent ball skills and the ability to play tactically as a team and speed, strength, and stamina. The referee will be on the lookout for any rule violations. A yellow card may be issued for a foul, with a second yellow card resulting in a red card and immediate dismissal. Players are given straight red cards for serious fouls, giving the opposing team an extra player advantage. When a team infringes, the opposing team gets a free-kick. A couple gets a penalty kick if a player is fouled in the penalty area.
Tokyo 2020 Games Outlook
During the amateur era, many nations won the men’s football tournament. Recently, South American countries have dominated. Brazil won their only Olympic gold medal to date with their fans at the Rio 2016 Games. Mexico won the gold medal match in London 2012, while Argentina won in Beijing 2008 and Athens 2004, beating Paraguay in the last final.
Spain won the last European gold medal in 1992 in Barcelona. No Asian nation has ever won gold; Japan took bronze in Mexico in 1968 and fourth in London in 2012.
Japan was runner-up in 2012. However, they lost to eventual runners-up Sweden in the quarter-finals of Rio 2016. But with the global expansion of the game, exciting new teams like Chile or Zambia may emerge.