In addition to being globally popular, football is one of the oldest sports on the Olympic programme. Everything you need to know about the number of teams, the stars worth following, and the path to qualifying for Paris, we will detail it for you in this article.

The Road to Paris: An Explanation of the Olympic Football Qualifying System
Football is one of the oldest sports on the Olympic programme, having been a pillar of the Olympic Games since 1900, with the exception of the 1932 Los Angeles Games. The women’s tournament was added to the program at Atlanta 1996 and has remained on it ever since.The 2024 Paris Games will see the return of football to the city where it made its Olympic debut. The competition begins on July 24, two days before the opening ceremony. A total of 28 teams will compete (12 in the women’s tournament and 16 in the men’s tournament) – as was the case at Tokyo 2020. The matches will be played in six facilities.
The Road to Paris: An Explanation of the Olympic Football Qualifying System
Finnish goalkeeper, Olavi Laaksonen, fails to prevent Austria from scoring from a penalty kick during a soccer match at the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki

Number of teams

Ladies

12 teams participate in the women’s championship, with a total of 216 athletes (18 per team). One quota will be awarded to the National Olympic Committee (NOC) team of the host country (France), while NOCs from around the world will compete for the remaining 11 quotas in qualifying tournaments.

men

16 teams participate in the men’s championship, with a total of 288 athletes (18 per team). One quota will be awarded to the National Olympic Committee (NOC) team of the host country (France), while NOCs from around the world will compete for the remaining 15 quotas in qualifying tournaments.

Age barrier

There is no age barrier in the women’s tournament in Paris 2024, nor in the competitions that will qualify National Olympic Committee teams for the next Olympic Games.

In the men’s tournament, athletes born on or after January 1, 2001 (age 23 during the Paris 2024 Games) are eligible to play in the qualifying rounds and competition matches for the upcoming Olympic Games.

However, three (3) players born before the aforementioned date, who have exceeded the age barrier, will be allowed to be included in the list of players (18 players per team).

The Road to Paris: An Explanation of the Olympic Football Qualifying System
Canada’s national team players pose for a group photo ahead of the women’s gold medal match between Canada and Sweden on day 14 of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Yokohama International Stadium on August 6, 2021 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. (NAOMI BAKER/GETTY IMAGES)

Qualifying system

The qualifying tournaments for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games shall be organized by FIFA in cooperation with the relevant regional associations:

  • Africa (CAF – Confederation of African Football)
  • North America, Central America and Caribbean (CONCACAF – Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football)
  • South America (CONMEBOL – Confederation of South American Football)
  • Asia (AFC – Asian Football Confederation)
  • Europe (UEFA – European Football Association)
  • Oceania (OFC – Oceania Football Confederation)
The Road to Paris: An Explanation of the Olympic Football Qualifying System
Brazilian Neymar (left) celebrates with goalkeeper Weverton after scoring the winning goal in a penalty shootout during the men’s soccer tournament final between Brazil and Germany at the Maracana Stadium on day 15 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on August 20, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (2016 Getty Images)

Distribution of classes and programme

Ladies

The 12 sessions of the women’s football competition at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games will be distributed through qualifying tournaments as follows:

  • Africa : Two sessions – a championship to be decided at a later date.
  • North America, Central and Caribbean : Two quotas will be decided by the CONCACAF Women’s Championship in Mexico, between July 4 and 18, 2022.
  • South America : Two sessions – Championship to be decided at a later date.
  • Asia : Two sessions – Championship to be decided at a later date.
  • Europe : Two sessions – Championship to be decided at a later date.
  • Oceania : Single share – Championship to be decided later.
  • Host country (France) : one share.

men

The 16 sessions of the men’s football competition at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games will be distributed through qualifying tournaments as follows:

  • Africa : 3.5 quotas (a fourth quotient can be won through an elimination match against an Asian National Olympic Committee) – Championship to be decided at a later date.
  • North America, Central and Caribbean : Two quotas will be decided by the CONCACAF U-20 Championship in Honduras, between June 18 and July 4, 2022.
  • South America : Two sessions – a tournament to be decided at a later date.
  • Asia : 3.5 quotas (a fourth quotient can be won through an elimination match against an African National Olympic Committee) – Championship to be decided at a later date.
  • Europe : 3 sessions – Championship to be decided at a later date.
  • Oceania : Single share – Championship to be decided later.
  • Host country (France) : one share.

Africa and Asia will compete in an elimination match to determine which of the two confederations will be awarded a fourth quota.

The Road to Paris: An Explanation of the Olympic Football Qualifying System
Annika Nesvold, No. 4 of the Swedish national team, dribbles past No. 11 Qingmei Sun during the 1996 Olympic Games match against the Chinese national team at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida.