Football has been part of the Olympics since 1908. In 1900 and 1904 it was an exhibition sport and in 1932 in Los Angeles there was no tournament. in 1908 in London the first Olympics football tournament was played. It was an amateur competition and would continue to be so until 1980 when the rules changed. Top players competed in the tournament until the 1950s when professionalism had spread to the extent where many players were not eligible any more. The Europeans have dominated the Olympics with the South Americans not able to reproduce their dominating form showed in the World Cup. in the 1950s to 1970s when most good players were professionals the Eastern European nations dominated. These "shamateurs" were insisted by their countries that they were amateurs even though most were paid by the state to play football. In 1980 FIFA changed the rules preventing any player who had played in a World Cup qualifier from taking part. In 1992 this again changed to become an Under-23 championship. Since then three over-age players have been allowed. The Olympics does not now feature the best players unlike in the early years of this competition but it is still and important event on the football calendar.
Click here to go back to the tournament page