Football at the 2012 Summer Olympics

The association football tournament at the 2012 Summer Olympics was held from 25 July to 11 August, and was the only sport to begin before the official opening day of the Olympic Games, two days before the opening ceremony. It was also the only sport to be held at multiple venues outside London (the host city of the Olympics), with Manchester, Glasgow, Newcastle, Coventry and Cardiff all hosting matches. The finals were played at Wembley Stadium. Associations affiliated with FIFA were invited to send their senior women's and men's under-23 national teams to participate; men's teams were allowed to augment their squads with three players over the age of 23. Five hundred and four football players competed for two sets of gold medals.[1]

at the Games of the XXX Olympiad
Football pictogram for the 2012 Summer Olympics
Event details
Games2012 Summer Olympics
Host countryUnited Kingdom
Dates25 July – 11 August 2012
Venues6 (in 6 host cities)
Competitors467 from 24 nations
Men's tournament
Teams16 (from 6 confederations)
1 Gold Mexico
2 Silver Brazil
3 Bronze South Korea
Women's tournament
Teams12 (from 6 confederations)
1 Gold United States
2 Silver Japan
3 Bronze Canada

For these games, the men competed in a 16-team tournament and the women in a 12-team tournament. The draw for the tournament took place on 24 April 2012.[2]



There were six stadiums that hosted matches:[3] The stadiums represent London itself and South East England, the English Midlands, North West England and North East England in England, as well as Scotland and Wales.

Football at the 2012 Summer Olympics (the United Kingdom)
Wembley Stadium Old Trafford
Capacity: 90,000 Capacity: 76,212
Cardiff Newcastle upon Tyne
Millennium Stadium St. James' Park
Capacity: 74,500 Capacity: 52,387
Glasgow Coventry
Hampden Park Ricoh Arena
Capacity: 52,103 Capacity: 32,500

NOTE: The Ricoh Arena was known as the City of Coventry Stadium due to the no-commercialization policy.

Competition schedule

GS Group stage QF Quarter-finals SF Semi-finals B Bronze medal match F Final
Event↓/Date → Wed 25 Thu 26 Fri 27 Sat 28 Sun 29 Mon 30 Tue 31 Wed 1 Thu 2 Fri 3 Sat 4 Sun 5 Mon 6 Tue 7 Wed 8 Thu 9 Fri 10 Sat 11

Qualified nations


Men's tournament

Means of qualification Date of completion Venue1 Berths[4] Qualified Senior team
FIFA Ranking2
Host nation 1   Great Britain 43
AFC Preliminary Competition 29 March 2012 Various (home and away) 3   Japan
  South Korea
  United Arab Emirates
CAF Preliminary Competition 10 December 2011   Morocco 3   Gabon
CONCACAF Preliminary Competition 2 April 2012   United States 2   Mexico
CONMEBOL Preliminary Competition 12 February 2011   Peru 2   Brazil
OFC Preliminary Competition 25 March 2012   New Zealand 1   New Zealand 95
UEFA Preliminary Competition 25 June 2011   Denmark 3   Spain
AFC–CAF play-off 23 April 2012   Great Britain[5] 1   Senegal 61
Total 16
  • ^1 Locations are those of final tournaments, various qualification stages may precede matches at these specific venues.
  • ^2 Senior ranking shown for comparison only. This is an under-23 competition, which does not award ranking points for the FIFA World Rankings, neither takes it into consideration.
  • ^3 England's ranking.

Women's tournament

Means of qualification Date of completion Venue1 Berths Qualified FIFA Ranking2
Host nation 1   Great Britain 92
AFC Preliminary Competition 11 September 2011   China[6] 2   Japan
  North Korea
CAF Preliminary Competition 22 October 2011[7] 2   Cameroon
  South Africa
CONCACAF Preliminary Competition 29 January 2012   Canada[8] 2   United States
CONMEBOL Preliminary Competition 21 November 2010   Ecuador 2   Brazil
OFC Preliminary Competition 4 April 2012 1   New Zealand 23
(UEFA) 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup 17 July 2011   Germany 2   Sweden
Total 12
  • ^1 Locations are those of final tournaments, various qualification stages may precede matches at these specific venues.
  • ^2 England's ranking.

United Kingdom/Great Britain teams


A men's football team representing Great Britain competed in the Olympics until 1972, albeit failing to qualify for the main tournament after 1960. After the Football Association abolished the distinction between amateur and professionals, a ruling that came into force in 1974, Great Britain did not subsequently attempt to qualify in football, although after the rules on Olympic eligibility were relaxed in 1984, they would have been permitted to do so.

On 24 August 2008, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown suggested that the presence of a GB team at the 2012 games was "vital".[9] He said that he had approached Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson to coach such a team.[9] The Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish football associations opposed such a move in case it would affect their status within the governing body of football, FIFA.[9]

On 29 May 2009, after last-ditch talks prompted by a FIFA deadline to settle the row, the four associations sent a letter to FIFA stating that while the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish associations would not participate in a unified UK men's or women's teams at the Olympic Games, they would not prevent England from fielding teams under that banner.[10][11]

However, Britain's FIFA Vice-president Jim Boyce stated that Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey, Craig Bellamy, Charlie Adam and other non-English players would have the legal right to be considered for Team GB at the London 2012 Olympics. The deal among the four "home nations" was challenged by the British Olympic Association. Boyce said there was no legal restriction as to why a player from Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland could be stopped from playing.[12]

Ultimately, five Welsh players were included in the 2012 Great Britain Olympic football squad, with Ryan Giggs – included as one of the three players over the age of 23 permitted – selected as team captain.[13] Giggs would score during the tournament, in a 3–1 defeat of the United Arab Emirates at Wembley.[14] None of the Great Britain men's football squad came from Scotland or Northern Ireland.

Tie breakers


This tournament differs from other modern major international football tournaments, in that head-to-head records is not the primary way to break ties.

The ranking of the teams in each group shall be determined as follows:[15]

  1. greatest number of points obtained in all group matches;
  2. goal difference in all group matches;
  3. greatest number of goals scored in all group matches;
  4. greatest number of points obtained in all group matches between the teams concerned;
  5. goal difference resulting from all group matches between the teams concerned;
  6. greatest number of goals scored in all group matches between the teams concerned;
  7. drawing of lots by the FIFA Organising Committee.

Men's tournament


Group A

Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts Qualification
1   Great Britain (H) 3 2 1 0 5 2 +3 7 Advance to knockout stage
2   Senegal 3 1 2 0 4 2 +2 5
3   Uruguay 3 1 0 2 2 4 −2 3
4   United Arab Emirates 3 0 1 2 3 6 −3 1
Source: FIFA
(H) Hosts

Group B

Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts Qualification
1   Mexico 3 2 1 0 3 0 +3 7 Advance to knockout stage
2   South Korea 3 1 2 0 2 1 +1 5
3   Gabon 3 0 2 1 1 3 −2 2
4    Switzerland 3 0 1 2 2 4 −2 1
Source: FIFA

Group C

Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts Qualification
1   Brazil 3 3 0 0 9 3 +6 9 Advance to knockout stage
2   Egypt 3 1 1 1 6 5 +1 4
3   Belarus 3 1 0 2 3 6 −3 3
4   New Zealand 3 0 1 2 1 5 −4 1
Source: FIFA

Group D

Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts Qualification
1   Japan 3 2 1 0 2 0 +2 7 Advance to knockout stage
2   Honduras 3 1 2 0 3 2 +1 5
3   Morocco 3 0 2 1 2 3 −1 2
4   Spain 3 0 1 2 0 2 −2 1
Source: FIFA

Knockout stage

Quarter-finalsSemi-finalsGold medal match
4 August – Cardiff
  Great Britain1 (4)
7 August – Manchester
  South Korea (p)1 (5)
  South Korea0
4 August – Newcastle
11 August – London
4 August – London
  Mexico (a.e.t.)4
7 August – London
4 August – Manchester
  Japan1 Bronze medal match
10 August – Cardiff
  South Korea2

Squad restrictions


The same restrictions used for recent Olympiads are applied, in which each squad is to consist of eighteen players, of which no more than three may be over the age of 23 before the beginning of the next year. In the case of the 2012 Summer Olympics, this restricts players born before 1 January 1989.[16]

Women's tournament


Group E

Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts Qualification
1   Great Britain 3 3 0 0 5 0 +5 9 Qualified for the quarter-finals
2   Brazil 3 2 0 1 6 1 +5 6
3   New Zealand 3 1 0 2 3 3 0 3
4   Cameroon 3 0 0 3 1 11 −10 0
Source: IOC

Group F

Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts Qualification
1   Sweden 3 1 2 0 6 3 +3 5 Qualified for the quarter-finals
2   Japan 3 1 2 0 2 1 +1 5
3   Canada 3 1 1 1 6 4 +2 4
4   South Africa 3 0 1 2 1 7 −6 1
Source: IOC

Group G

Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts Qualification
1   United States 3 3 0 0 8 2 +6 9 Qualified for the quarter-finals
2   France 3 2 0 1 8 4 +4 6
3   North Korea 3 1 0 2 2 6 −4 3
4   Colombia 3 0 0 3 0 6 −6 0
Source: IOC

Knockout stage

Quarter-finals Semi-finals Gold medal match
E1   Great Britain 0
F3   Canada 2
F3   Canada 3
G1   United States (aet) 4
G1   United States 2
E3   New Zealand 0
G1   United States 2
F2   Japan 1
F1   Sweden 1
G2   France 2
G2   France 1 Bronze medal match
F2   Japan 2
E2   Brazil 0 F3   Canada 1
F2   Japan 2 G2   France 0

Squad restrictions


There were no age restrictions in the women's tournament.[17]

Medal summary


Medal table

1  Mexico1001
  United States1001
3  Brazil0101
5  Canada0011
  South Korea0011
Totals (6 entries)2226


Event Gold Silver Bronze
Men   Mexico (MEX)
Jesús Corona (captain)
Israel Jiménez
Carlos Salcido
Hiram Mier
Dárvin Chávez
Héctor Herrera
Javier Cortés
Marco Fabián
Oribe Peralta
Giovani dos Santos
Javier Aquino
Raúl Jiménez
Diego Reyes
Jorge Enríquez
Néstor Vidrio
Miguel Ponce
Néstor Araujo
José Antonio Rodríguez
  Brazil (BRA)
Thiago Silva (captain)
Juan Jesus
Leandro Damião
Bruno Uvini
Alex Sandro
Alexandre Pato
  South Korea (KOR)
Jung Sung-ryong
Oh Jae-suk
Yun Suk-young
Kim Young-gwon
Kim Kee-hee
Ki Sung-yueng
Kim Bo-kyung
Baek Sung-dong
Ji Dong-won
Park Chu-young
Nam Tae-hee
Hwang Seok-ho
Koo Ja-cheol (captain)
Kim Chang-soo
Park Jong-woo
Jung Woo-young
Kim Hyun-sung
Lee Bum-young
Women   United States (USA)
Hope Solo
Heather Mitts
Christie Rampone (captain)
Becky Sauerbrunn
Kelley O'Hara
Amy LePeilbet
Shannon Boxx
Amy Rodriguez
Heather O'Reilly
Carli Lloyd
Sydney Leroux
Lauren Cheney
Alex Morgan
Abby Wambach
Megan Rapinoe
Rachel Buehler
Tobin Heath
Nicole Barnhart
  Japan (JPN)
Miho Fukumoto
Yukari Kinga
Azusa Iwashimizu
Saki Kumagai
Aya Sameshima
Mizuho Sakaguchi
Kozue Ando
Aya Miyama (captain)
Nahomi Kawasumi
Homare Sawa
Shinobu Ohno
Kyoko Yano
Karina Maruyama
Asuna Tanaka
Megumi Takase
Mana Iwabuchi
Yūki Ōgimi
Ayumi Kaihori
  Canada (CAN)
Karina LeBlanc
Chelsea Stewart
Carmelina Moscato
Robyn Gayle
Kaylyn Kyle
Rhian Wilkinson
Diana Matheson
Candace Chapman
Lauren Sesselmann
Desiree Scott
Christine Sinclair (captain)
Sophie Schmidt
Melissa Tancredi
Kelly Parker
Jonelle Filigno
Brittany Timko
Erin McLeod
Marie-Ève Nault

Notable events and controversies


South Korean political statements


After South Korea defeated Japan in the Bronze Medal match at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on 10 August, South Korean player Park Jong-woo walked around the field holding a banner with a message written in Korean, "독도는 우리 땅!" (dokdo neun uri ttang lit. "Dokdo is our territory!).[18] As both IOC and FIFA statutes prohibit any political statements being made by athletes at their respective sporting events, the IOC barred Park from the bronze medal ceremony and did not permit him to receive his medal.[19][20] In addition, it asked FIFA to discipline Park, and stated that it may decide on further sanctions at a later date.[21][22] FIFA failed to reach a conclusion on the case at a meeting at its Zürich headquarters held on 5 October, and the disciplinary committee discussed the case again on the following week,[23] then failed to reach a verdict again. The case was heard again by the committee on 20 November,[24] and FIFA decided on 3 December to suspend Park for two matches after he was considered to have breached the FIFA Disciplinary Code and the Regulations of the Olympic Football Tournaments. FIFA also imposed a warning on the Korea Football Association and reminded it of its obligation to properly instruct its players on all the pertinent rules and applicable regulations before the start of any competition, in order to avoid such incident in the future. The Korea Football Association was warned that should incidents of such nature occur again in the future, the FIFA Disciplinary Committee may impose harsher sanctions on the Korea Football Association.[25]

Iranian women's team dress code violations


Iran's women's team[26] and three Jordanian players were banned during the second round of the Asian qualification tournament due to not adhering to FIFA dress code; the players were allowed to play while covering their head in the first round.[citation needed] FIFA banned the hijab in 2007,[27] although FIFA now allows the hijab to be worn after overturning the 2007 decision in 2012.[28]

Use of incorrect flag for North Korea


Following the South Korean flag being put on display, instead of the correct North Korean flag, on the stadium screen at Hampden Park when the teams were being announced before the Colombia versus North Korea women's match, the North Korea team protested against this action by refusing to take to the pitch. The kick-off was delayed by over an hour while the mistake was being corrected.[29]

Canada–United States semi-final


During the semi-final match between Canada and the United States, a time-wasting call was made against the Canadian goalkeeper, Erin McLeod, when she held the ball longer than the allowed six seconds. This violation is called in international play, and is intended to be used during instances of time-wasting.[30] As a result, the American side was awarded an indirect free-kick in the box. On the ensuing play, Canada was penalized for a handball in the penalty box, with the American team being awarded a penalty kick, which Abby Wambach converted to tie the game at 3–3. The Americans went on to win the match in extra time, advancing to the gold medal game.[31][32] After the match, Canada forward Christine Sinclair stated, "the ref decided the result before the game started." FIFA responded by stating that the refeering decisions were correct and saying it was considering disciplinary action against Sinclair, but that any disciplinary action would be postponed until after the end of the tournament.[33][34][35]

See also



  1. ^ "Olympic sports: Football". London 2012. Archived from the original on 30 May 2012. Retrieved 2 August 2008.
  2. ^ "GB Olympic football teams to play in Manchester, London and Cardiff". BBC Sport. British Broadcasting Corporation. 10 November 2011.
  3. ^ "Sports & venues: Football stadia, UK-wide". London 2012. Archived from the original on 30 May 2012. Retrieved 19 August 2009.
  4. ^ "AFC slots for Olympics approved". Asian Football Confederation.
  5. ^ "Play-off details confirmed". FIFA. 26 January 2012. Archived from the original on 11 February 2012. Retrieved 3 February 2012.
  6. ^ "China to host women's Olympic qualifiers". Asian Football Confederation. 3 March 2011. Retrieved 10 March 2011.
  7. ^ "Fixture change in Africa". 19 August 2011. Archived from the original on 18 October 2011. Retrieved 23 August 2011.
  8. ^ "Canada granted 2012 Olympic Qualifiers". Canadian Soccer Association. Archived from the original on 11 November 2011.
  9. ^ a b c "Brown pays tribute to GB success". BBC Sport. 24 August 2008.
  10. ^ "England to go solo with 2012 Olympic team?". ESPNsoccernet. 29 May 2009. Archived from the original on 1 June 2009. Retrieved 29 May 2009.
  11. ^ "Torneos olímpicos de fútbol – Londres 2012" [Full fixture Olympic football tournaments – London 2012] (in Spanish). International football journalism. 4 March 2011. Retrieved 4 March 2011.
  12. ^ "London 2012 Olympics: Gareth Bale and non-English players have 'legal right' to play for Team GB". The Daily Telegraph. 24 March 2011. Archived from the original on 28 February 2014.
  13. ^ "Welsh stars Ryan Giggs and Craig Bellamy dismiss Olympic fears". BBC Sport. 9 July 2012.
  14. ^ Fletcher, Paul (29 July 2012). "Olympics football: Ryan Giggs inspires GB win over UAE". BBC Sport.
  15. ^ Regulations of the Olympic Football Tournaments London 2012 (FIFA) Chapter VII, Articles 25 & 29, Paragraph 5 (p. 37 & 40).
  16. ^ Regulations of the Olympic Football Tournaments London 2012 (FIFA) Chapter III, Article 8, paragraph 3 (p. 15).
  17. ^ Regulations of the Olympic Football Tournaments London 2012 (FIFA) Chapter III, Article 8, paragraph 4 (p. 15).
  18. ^ "[SS포토]동메달 축구대표팀 박종우, '독도는 우리 땅!'". Sports Seoul (in Korean). 10 August 2012. Archived from the original on 11 August 2012. Retrieved 10 August 2012.
  19. ^ "London Olympics: row over S Korea 'political celebration'". BBC News. 11 August 2012.
  20. ^ "IOC weighs in on flag incident". ESPN. 11 August 2012.
  21. ^ Hunt, Katie; Kwon, K.J. (13 August 2012). "Politics keeps South Korean soccer player off medal podium". CNN.
  22. ^ Das, Andrew (11 August 2012). "South Korean Denied Medal Over Politics". The New York Times.
  23. ^ "FIFA puts off ruling on S. Korean". theStarOnline. 6 October 2012. Archived from the original on 3 November 2012.
  24. ^ "FIFA to hear case over South Korea Olympic protest". Brian Homewood. Reuters. 20 November 2012. Retrieved 20 November 2012.
  25. ^ "Korea Republic's Park Jongwoo suspended for two matches". FIFA. Archived from the original on 9 December 2012. Retrieved 3 December 2012.
  26. ^ Shantyei, Sanam (6 June 2011). "Iran women's Olympic dream crushed by dress code ruling". Arab News. Archived from the original on 1 October 2011. Retrieved 6 June 2011.
  27. ^ Singh, Vijai (3 March 2012). "Headscarves for Women's Games Near Approval". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
  28. ^ "Hijabs approved for soccer players by FIFA". CBC News. 5 July 2012. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
  29. ^ Bowater, Donna (25 July 2012). "London 2012 Olympics: North Korea women footballers protest over flag gaffe". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 26 July 2012. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
  30. ^ "Controversial women's soccer call continues to baffle experts".
  31. ^ "Controversy mars Americans' 4–3 win over Canada, but should not detract from a great game". Yahoo! Sports. 7 August 2012. Retrieved 7 August 2012.
  32. ^ "London 2012 soccer: Controversial call against Canada in U.S. semifinal rarely made". Toronto Star. 7 August 2012.
  33. ^ "FIFA to probe Canadian remarks". Associated Press. 9 August 2012. p. 17.
  34. ^ "Christine Sinclair's suspension wasn't for comments to media". CBC News.
  35. ^ Kelly, Cathal (12 June 2015). "The greatest game of women's soccer ever played". The Globe and Mail.

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