Football at the Summer Olympic Games is not what some of us would assume it is. Football is another name for ‘soccer’ which is the sport played at the summer Olympics. Soccer has been included in every set of Summer Olympic Games except for the dates 1896 and 1932. Women’s football was later added with the 1996 Olympic Games.
Soccer was in the early days of development during the first Olympics in 1896. Soccer was not on the Olympics program guide for the event but there have been some sources which claim that an Olympic tournament was held during the first Olympic Games.
In 1900 Soccer was included in the Olympics. Although there have been soccer games during every Summer Games FIFA does not accept or acknowledge soccer as an official Olympic sport even today. The first proper tournament was organized by the Football Association in the London Games of 1908. This featured six teams which were increased to eleven teams during the 1912 Olympic Games.
By the 1920s, the way soccer was played during the Olympics had changed slightly. Whole international teams could not send their entire lineup and would have to pick which teammates went to compete. In the 1936 games, the British played against the Germans in which even Adolf Hitler attended the game match.
In 1984 for the Los Angeles Games, the IOC brought back the idea of sending professional athletes to the Olympics. Even though FIFA did not accept the game as official for the Olympics, they would still dictate what comprised an official team. Both FIFA and the IOC wanted teams that were composed of younger individuals. Some say this was a way to sabotage the game for other countries with stronger football teams, as shown by the low scoring these countries receive every Summer Olympics. However England has been working on this problem for a long time before the United States. In 1974 the Football Association of England declared that there was no longer a distinction between “Amateur” and “Professional” soccer.
As 2012 is now set for the Olympic Games to take place, all eyes are on Great Britain to use this home court advantage to assemble what some believe to be the most impressive football team yet. Many countries have football teams in the Olympics vying for the title and it is becoming more and more relevant, including France, America, the UK, Sweden, Germany, Australia, Japan, Canada, Russia, Spain and Mexico.