Football Tournament of the Olympic Games - Overview

The oldest and most traditional international tournament in world football.
After serving as a demonstration sport at the some of the first Olympic 
Games, the football tournament of the Olympic Games reached its peak in the 
1920s when the tournament must be regarded as the world championship of 
that time.
However, with the introduction of a proper World Cup in 1930, the status
of the tournament diminished. Especially, as only amateur players were
allowed to participate, the tournament was for many years dominated by
state amateurs from Eastern Europe. To counter this, and raise the status
of Olympic football, professional players were allowed to participate in
the 1980s, though subject to certain restrictions, first regarding prior
World Cup experience (something that appears to have applied since at
least 1960, also for the Eastern European countries) and then regarding 
player age (U23). 

Medal Winners

     Gold                 Silver               Bronze
     ----                 ------               ------
1908 Great Britain        Denmark              Netherlands
1912 Great Britain        Denmark              Netherlands
1920 Belgium              Spain                Netherlands
1924 Uruguay              Switzerland          Sweden
1928 Uruguay              Argentina            Italy
1932   no Olympic football tournament
1936 Italy                Austria              Norway
1948 Sweden               Yugoslavia           Denmark
1952 Hungary              Yugoslavia           Sweden
1956 Soviet Union         Yugoslavia           Bulgaria
1960 Yugoslavia           Denmark              Hungary
1964 Hungary              Czechoslovakia       East Germany
1968 Hungary              Bulgaria             Japan
1972 Poland               Hungary              Soviet Union, East Germany
1976 East Germany         Poland               Soviet Union
1980 Czechoslovakia       East Germany         Soviet Union
1984 France               Brazil               Yugoslavia
1988 Soviet Union         Brazil               West Germany
1992 Spain                Poland               Ghana
1996 Nigeria              Argentina            Brazil
2000 Cameroon             Spain                Chile
2004 Argentina            Paraguay             Italy
2008 Argentina            Nigeria              Brazil
2012 Mexico               Brazil               South Korea

Medals Classification

                      Gold    Silver  Bronze  Total
                      ----    ------  ------  -----
 1.Hungary              3       1       1       5
 2.Argentina            2       2               4
 3.Soviet Union         2               3       5
 4.Great Britain        2                       2
   Uruguay              2                       2
 6.Yugoslavia           1       3       1       5
   Poland               1       2               3
   Spain                1       2               3
 9.East Germany         1       1       2       4
10.Czechoslovakia       1       1               2
   Nigeria              1       1               2
12.Italy                1               2       3
   Sweden               1               2       3
14.Belgium              1                       1
   Cameroon             1                       1
   France               1                       1
   Mexico               1                       1
18.Brazil                       3       2       5
19.Denmark                      3       1       4
20.Bulgaria                     1       1       2
21.Austria                      1               1
   Paraguay                     1               1
   Switzerland                  1               1
24.Netherlands                          3       3
25.Chile                                1       1
   Ghana                                1       1
   Japan                                1       1
   Norway                               1       1
   West Germany                         1       1
   South Korea                          1       1

Total                  23      23      24      70

Olympic Finals 1896-2012

        Final                                Third Place Match

1896    no Olympic football tournament

1900    [Demonstration matches in Paris, France]   [1]

1904    [Demonstration matches in St. Louis, USA]  [1]

1906    [Unofficial tournament in Athens, Greece]  [1]

1908    Great Britain  2-0 Denmark           Netherlands    2-0 Sweden
        [Final tournament in London, England]
                
1912    Great Britain  4-2 Denmark           Netherlands    9-0 Finland
        [Final tournament in Stockholm, Sweden]
                
1920    Belgium        Abd Czechoslovakia    Spain          3-1 Netherlands    [2]
        [Final tournament in Antwerpen, Belgium]
                
1924    Uruguay        3-0 Switzerland       Sweden       1-1 3-1 Netherlands
        [Final tournament in Paris, France]
                
1928    Uruguay      1-1 2-1 Argentina       Italy         11-3 Egypt
        [Final tournament in Amsterdam, Netherlands]
                
1932    no Olympic football tournament
                
1936    Italy          2-1 Austria           Norway         3-2 Poland
        [Final tournament in Berlin, Germany]
                
1948    Sweden         3-1 Yugoslavia        Denmark        5-3 Great Britain
        [Final tournament in London, England]
                
1952    Hungary        2-0 Yugoslavia        Sweden         2-0 West Germany
        [Final tournament in Helsinki, Finland]
                
1956    Soviet Union   1-0 Yugoslavia        Bulgaria       3-0 India
        [Final tournament in Melbourne, Australia] [Qualifying]
                
1960    Yugoslavia     3-1 Denmark           Hungary        2-1 Italy
        [Final tournament in Rome, Italy] [Qualifying]
                
1964    Hungary        2-1 Czechoslovakia    East Germany   3-1 Egypt
        [Final tournament in Tokyo, Japan] [Qualifying]
                
1968    Hungary        4-1 Bulgaria          Japan          2-0 Mexico
        [Final tournament in Mexico City, Mexico] [Qualifying]
                
1972    Poland         2-1 Hungary           Soviet Union   2-2 East Germany   [3]
        [Final tournament in Munich, West Germany] [Qualifying]
                
1976    East Germany   3-1 Poland            Soviet Union   2-0 Brazil
        [Final tournament in Montreal, Canada] [Qualifying]
                
1980    Czechoslovakia 1-0 East Germany      Soviet Union   2-0 Yugoslavia
        [Final tournament in Moscow, Soviet Union] [Qualifying]
                
1984    France         2-0 Brazil            Yugoslavia     2-1 Italy
        [Final tournament in Los Angeles, USA] [Qualifying]
                
1988    Soviet Union   2-1 Brazil [aet]      West Germany   3-0 Italy
        [Final tournament in Seoul, South Korea] [Qualifying]
                
1992    Spain          3-2 Poland            Ghana          1-0 Australia
        [Final tournament in Barcelona, Spain] [Qualifying]
                
1996    Nigeria        3-2 Argentina         Brazil         5-0 Portugal
        [Final tournament in Atlanta, USA] [Qualifying]
                
2000    Cameroon       2-2 Spain [aet, 5-3p] Chile          2-0 USA
        [Final tournament in Sydney, Australia] [Qualifying]

2004    Argentina      1-0 Paraguay          Italy          1-0 Iraq
        [Final tournament in Athens, Greece] [Qualifying]

2008    Argentina      1-0 Nigeria           Brazil         3-0 Belgium
        [Final tournament in Beijing, China] [Qualifying] 

2012    Mexico         2-1 Brazil            South Korea    2-0 Japan
        [Final tournament in London, England]

[1] None of these tournaments are considered official, and are not counted
    in the medals classification.
[2] Czechoslovakia left the pitch in the final against Belgium, with the
    score 2-0 for Belgium, on grounds of biased refereeing.  They were 
    disqualified, and a silver medal match was played between the Netherlands
    and Spain (for a complete explanation of the set-up at those Games, 
    see the relevant tournament file).
[3] The bronze medal was shared.

Player eligibility


1908 to 1956 
  Only amateur footballers were admitted. Professional footballers were excluded.

1960 
  Only those amateur players who had not been registered for the 16 squads qualified
  for the 1958 FIFA World Cup, were admitted. Professionals were excluded.

1964 
  Only amateurs could take part in the competition, while professionals were
  excluded. But all those players who had taken part in the preliminary or final
  matches of the 1962 World Cup, were excluded. This last particular qualification
  clause was not applicable to the representative amateur teams from the national
  associations of Africa and Asia.

1968 to 1976 
  Only amateurs were admitted. Professionals were excluded.

1980 
  Only amateurs were admitted, while professionals were excluded. But all those
  European and South American players who had participated in the 1978 World Cup
  matches (final stage and qualifiers), were excluded.

1984 
  For the first time, also the professional players were eligible for the Olympic
  Games. But with an exception: all those European and South American footballers
  who had taken part in previous World Cup matches (final phase and qualifiers)
  were automatically excluded. During the first rounds of the 1984 Olympic qualifiers,
  the rules were still under debate and that caused some misunderstandings about the
  employment of amateurs or professionals.

1988 
  The 1984 rules were maintained also for the 1988 edition, but with an additional 
  paragraph: those European and South American footballers who had previously played 
  less than 90 minutes in one single match of the World Cup, were eligible.

1992 
  The competition was reserved to all those footballers born on or after the day
  01-08-1969.

1996 to 2012 
  The competition was open to Under-23 teams. But for the final phase, every team
  could be integrated with three “overages”.

All-Time Table Final Tournaments

All-Time Table (incl. Qualifying)


About this document

Thanks to Luca Gandini for eligibility rules (source: the official Circulars published by FIFA)

Prepared and maintained by Lars Aarhus for the Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation

Author: Lars Aarhus (lars@rsssf.no)
Last updated: 2 May 2013

(C) Copyright Lars Aarhus and RSSSF 1997/2013
You are free to copy this document in whole or part provided that proper acknowledgement is given to the author. All rights reserved.