The most popular sport in the world, football — otherwise known as soccer, namely the Associated Press — is one of the must-watch events of the Games. For 90 minutes, two teams with a combined number of 22 players attempt to get the ball in the opposing team’s net. Men’s football has been on the Olympic program every year except for the 1896 inaugural Games and the 1932 Los Angeles Games, when it was dropped as FIFA was trying to popularize its World Cup tournament. For men’s football, unlike the World Cup, the teams are limited to players who are 23 years old or younger, but they are allowed to have three players over 23 on their squads, making the competition unpredictable. In recent years, African countries such as Nigeria have taken home medals and in 2012, Mexico won the gold medal by beating Brazil in the final.
Women’s football, which has been a part of the Olympics since the 1996 Atlanta Games, has no age restriction making the results similar to the results of the World Cup. Like the World Cup, the favorites to win it all in women’s football is the United States, which has won four gold medals, more than any other country. For the Tokyo Games, Zambia’s women footballers will be making their Olympic debut.
Football will be held on several days July 21-Aug. 7.
Venue and access information
Football matches will take place at the new National Stadium (Capacity: 80,016. About five minutes from Kokuritsu-kyogijo Station on the Toei Oedo Line and Sendagaya and Shinanomachi stations on the Sobu Line. The stadium can also be accessed by bus from various stations, including Shibuya and Meguro); Tokyo Stadium (Capacity: 48,000. About 5 minutes from Tobitakyu and Nishichofu stations on the Keio Line; Shuttle busses will run from Komae Station on the Odakyu Odawara Line and from Musashisakai Station on the Chuo and Seibu Tamagawa lines); Sapporo Dome (Capacity: 41,000. About 10 minutes from exit three of Fukuzumi Station on the Municipal Subway Toho Line. Shuttle busses will also run from various stations, including Makomanai and Hiragishi stations on the Municipal Subway Nanboku Line); Miyagi Stadium (Capacity: 49,000. Access is via shuttle busses from Sendai Station on JR shinkansen and local lines, the Sendai Subway Namboku and Tozai lines, as well as from various other stations); Ibaragi Kashima Stadium, Saitama Stadium and International Stadium Yokohama.