Football Association of Ireland
National Sports Campus
Tel: (+353 1) 8999 500
Fax: (+353 1) 8999 501
Eleven players a side, with the aim to put the ball in the opposition goal. Simplicity itself! Olympic football competition has a few extra rules however. As professionals are allowed to play there is an age restriction on players. There are 16 men’s team in the Olympic competition and teams are limited to only three players over the age of 23. Twelve women’s team are allowed in the competition, which doesn’t have any age restrictions.
Men’s Football was introduced as a demonstration sport in the 1896 Olympic Games in Athens. It became an official Olympic sport in the 1908 Games in London.
Nearly a century passed before women’s Football was included in the Olympic competition programme in the 1996 Games in Atlanta.
Until the 1984 Olympic Games, participation was restricted to amateur players and Olympic Football was dominated by eastern European countries.
After the inclusion of professional athletes at the Olympic Games, participation rules have been a subject of debate between the International Olympic Committee and FIFA. As a result, new regulations were established specifying the age of participant athletes. The new regulations have enabled many African countries to display a rich pool of Football talents.
Each Football game is played by two teams of 11 players each, one of whom is the goalkeeper. During the game a team is allowed to make three substitutes from a group of seven players. No game can begin if a team has fewer than seven players. In Men’s Olympic Football, each 18-member squad must include at least 15 athletes less than 23 years of age. There is no age limit for the remaining three.
A Football game lasts 90 minutes, two halves of 45 minutes each, with a 15-minute half-time break. The teams’ aim is to score a goal without violating the rules of the sport. A goal is scored when the whole of the ball passes over the goal line between the opposite team’s goalposts. The winner is the team to score the most goals.
A referee presides over a game and is in charge of implementing the rules. Two assistant referees moving along the two touch lines facilitate the referee’s task. Before the beginning of the game, the referee draws lots. The winning team chooses a goalpost for the first half and the other team gets the ball at the referee’s starting whistle.
Basic laws of the game
Rule violations are penalized by the referee according to their gravity.
Direct free kick: It is called against the team whose player kicks, holds, trips, pushes an opponent or attempts these actions. The same will apply when a player handles the ball deliberately. In these cases, a player of the opposite team may perform a direct kick towards the opponent’s goalpost from the spot where the violation was committed.
It is called when the above violations take place within the goal or penalty area, regardless of the ball’s position. The kick is made from a distance of 11 m from the team’s goalpost.
Indirect free kick: It is called when, according to the referee’s judgment, a player’s conduct is hazardous or when a player obstructs an opponent or the goalkeeper.
It is also called against a goalkeeper who holds the ball in the penalty area more than six seconds, drops and then picks up the ball without an other player coming in contact with it or touches the ball by hand after a pass from a team mate. The player making the kick can’t shoot straight to the opponent team’s goalpost, but has to first pass it on to a teammate.
The referee shows a yellow card to a player who plays aggressively towards the opponent , reacts in an untoward manner in words or gestures, causes delays or exits/enters the court without the referee’s permission.
The referee shows a red card and expels an athlete from the court if he/she violates the code of sportsmanship, displays unfitting conduct, hits an opponent, uses a hand to block the ball and obstructs the opposite team or is shown a second yellow card at the same game.