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Football celebrates 100 years at Olympics
Argentina meet Canada today

Though the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics is scheduled for August 8, the games of the 29th Olympiad will commence unofficially today when the women’s football championship gets underway in Beijing.

The women’s championship will commence today while the men’s championship will start tomorrow.

The last round of the women’s championship will see 12 teams competing in three groups namely ‘E’, ‘F’ and ‘G’ while 16 teams grouped into A, B, C and D will compete in the men’s category.

Hosts China, Sweden, Argentina and Canada are included in Group ‘E’ while South Korea, Nigeria, Germany and Brazil are grouped in ‘F’. Norway, USA and New Zealand are in Group ‘G’ in the women’s championship.

In the men’s category, Ivory Coast, Argentina, Austria and Serbia are in Group ‘A’ while the Netherlands, Nigeria, Japan and USA form ‘B’ Group. China, New Zealand, Brazil and Belgium make up Group ‘C’ and North Korea, Cameroon, Honduras and Italy will compete in Group ‘D’.

The commencement of the championship today will mark football’s 100 years at the Olympics.

The historic football encounter between France B team and Denmark which was played at the Shepherd Bush Ground on 18th October 1908, marked the beginning of football at the Olympics.

France conceded a massive 9-0 defeat in this historic match. Incidentally, football saw its inception at the Olympics 22 years before the FIFA conducted Football Championships that started in 1930 in Uruguay.

History says that football has been played in 1900 (Paris) and 1904 (USA) at the Olympics but it had been conducted on an experimental basis. Football is considered the first team sport included in the Olympics.

With time, many football players achieved professional status and suggestions were forwarded in 1980 to conduct the Olympic football championship as an Under-23 competition. But that was recognized only at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. That too was reviewed and three senior players were allowed to participate in teams from the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

The women’s championship commenced in 1996 and five years after the FIFA initiated its women’s football championship. The first women’s gold medal in football was won by the USA while the silver was won by China.

This year, Germany and Brazil are considered favourites over defending champions USA to reach the final.


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