The stage is now set for the Men’s and Women’s Olympic Football Tournaments at Rio 2016, following Thursday’s draw at the Estadio Maracana’s auditorium. The Olympic Football Tournaments will have a total of 58 matches, with 32 for the men, and 26 for the women.
The draw revealed the identity of the teams standing in Brazil’s way as they bid to win gold in both competitions. Drawn into Group E, the women begin their campaign against China at the Estadio Olimpico in Rio de Janeiro on 3 August, while the men kick off against South Africa at the Estadio Mane Garrincha in Brasilia the following day.
“Today is a very important day in our Olympic journey towards the 2016 Olympic Games,” said Carlos Arthur Nuzman, president of COB (Brazilian Olympic Committee) and president of President of the Organising Committee for the Rio 2016™ Olympic and Paralympic Games. The path of our National teams are defined. As a former athlete, I don’t like to talk about medals, but I know that the fans are anxious about it. I want to register my huge support for both of our National Teams, as a Brazilian.”
The action gets under way on 3 August, with five other cities aside from Rio staging games: Belo Horizonte, Brasilia, Manaus, Salvador and Sao Paulo. Both finals will be played at the Maracana, with the women going for gold on the 19th and the men doing likewise a day later.
“Just under two years ago, Brazil hosted a magical edition of the FIFA World Cup, and it will be glorious to see these cities again at the centre of the football world this August,” said Lydia Nsekera, deputy chairman of the Organising Committee for the Olympic Football Tournaments, ExCo and IOC member “That is why I would like to express my gratitude to the Host Cities for bringing to life the legacy of that World Cup. There is no place for football like Brazil, and I can’t wait to see these six cities setting up a dream stage once again for football fans from across the globe.”
A clutch of Brazilian sports stars lent a helping hand at the draw. The football world was well represented thanks to the presence of Ronaldinho Gaucho, the 2004 and 2005 FIFA World Player of the year and the winner of a bronze medal at Beijing 2008, and centre-half Aline Pellegrino, who skippered the Brazilian women’s team to silver at Athens 2004.
Accompanying them were Janeth Arcain, a star of international basketball and a silver and bronze medallist at Athens 1996 and Sydney 2000 respectively and Maurren Maggi, who became the first Brazilian woman to land an individual gold medal in winning the long jump at Beijing 2008 and who also played football for Sao Paulo, the club closest to her heart. The draw itself was conducted by Colin Smith, FIFA’s Director of Competitions.
The audience at the auditorium also included some esteemed figures, with representatives from all 28 delegations in attendance, as were Dunga and Oswaldo Alvarez, the respective coaches of Brazil’s men’s and women’s teams. Also looking on was Carlos Restrepo, who is in charge of the Colombian men’s team, who were the last side to qualify for the Olympic tournaments, and Pia Sundhage, currently Sweden’s women’s team boss, who oversaw USA’s gold-medal-winning campaigns at Beijing 2008 and London 2012. Silvia Neid, who led Germany to bronze at Beijing 2008, was also present at the draw.
“All three groups are even,” Neid said. “Australia is the current champion of Asia and eliminated Japan which shows their quality. Canada reached the quarter-final at the Women’s World Cup last year, both are tough opponents with an athletic style and distinctive speed. In contrast, Zimbabwe are an unknown quantity.”
There is still time to buy tickets to see the Rio 2016 Olympic Football Tournaments live in person.
Men’s Olympic Football Tournament Rio 2016
Brazil, South Africa, Iraq, Denmark
Sweden, Colombia, Nigeria, Japan
Fiji, Korea Republic, Mexico, Germany
Honduras, Algeria, Portugal, Argentina
Women’s Olympic Football Tournament Rio 2016
Brazil, China, Sweden, South Africa
Canada, Australia, Zimbabwe, Germany
USA, New Zealand, France, Colombia
by FIFA Media