The men's football tournament at the 2012 Summer Olympics was held in London and five other cities in Great Britain from 26 July to 11 August. Associations affiliated with FIFA were invited to enter their men's U-23 teams in regional qualifying competitions, from which 15 teams, plus the hosts Great Britain, reached the final tournament. Men's teams were allowed to augment their squads with three players over the age of 23. It was the first major FIFA-organised men's tournament to be held within the United Kingdom since the 1966 FIFA World Cup and was the first men's Olympic football tournament to feature a team representing Great Britain since the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome.
Each National Olympic Committee may enter one men's team in the football tournament.
|Means of qualification||Date of completion||Venue1||Berths||Qualified|
|Host nation||2005||—||1||Great Britain|
|AFC Preliminary Competition||29 March 2012||Various
(home and away format)
|3|| South Korea
United Arab Emirates
|2011 CAF U-23 Championship||10 December 2011||Morocco||3|| Gabon
|CONCACAF Preliminary Competition||2 April 2012||United States||2|| Mexico
|2011 South American Youth Championship||12 February 2011||Peru||2|| Brazil
|OFC Preliminary Competition||25 March 2012||New Zealand||1||New Zealand|
|2011 UEFA European Under-21 Football Championship||25 June 2011||Denmark||3|| Spain
|AFC–CAF play-off||23 April 2012||Great Britain||1||Senegal|
|Wembley Stadium||Old Trafford||Millennium Stadium|
|Capacity: 90,000||Capacity: 75,643||Capacity: 74,500|
|St James' Park||Hampden Park||City of Coventry Stadium|
|Capacity: 52,354||Capacity: 51,866||Capacity: 32,609|
For the men's tournament, each nation submitted a squad of 18 players, 15 of whom had to be born on or after 1 January 1989, and three of whom could be overage players. A minimum of two goalkeepers (plus one optional alternate goalkeeper) had to be included in the squad.
|AFC||Ravshan Irmatov (Uzbekistan)||Abdukhamidullo Rasulov (Uzbekistan)
Bakhadyr Kochkarov (Kyrgyzstan)
|Yuichi Nishimura (Japan)||Toru Sagara (Japan)
Toshiyuki Nagi (Japan)
|Ben Williams (Australia)||Matthew Cream (Australia)
Hakan Anaz (Australia)
|CAF||Bakary Gassama (Gambia)||Jason Damoo (Seychelles)
Angesom Ogbamariam (Eritrea)
|Slim Jedidi (Tunisia)||Bechir Hassani (Tunisia)
Sherif Hassan (Egypt)
|CONCACAF||Roberto García (Mexico)||José Luis Camargo (Mexico)
Alberto Morín (Mexico)
|Mark Geiger (United States)||Mark Hurd (United States)
Joe Fletcher (Canada)
|CONMEBOL||Raúl Orosco (Bolivia)||Efraín Castro (Bolivia)
Arol Valda (Bolivia)
|Wilmar Roldán (Colombia)||Humberto Clavijo (Colombia)
Eduardo Díaz (Colombia)
|Juan Soto (Venezuela)||Jorge Urrego (Venezuela)
Carlos López (Venezuela)
|OFC||Peter O'Leary (New Zealand)||Jan-Hendrik Hintz (New Zealand)
Ravinesh Kumar (Fiji)
|UEFA||Felix Brych (Germany)||Stefan Lupp (Germany)
Mark Borsch (Germany)
|Mark Clattenburg (Great Britain)||Stephen Child (Great Britain)
Simon Beck (Great Britain)
|Pavel Královec (Czech Republic)||Martin Wilczek (Czech Republic)
Antonín Kordula (Czech Republic)
|Svein Oddvar Moen (Norway)||Kim Haglund (Norway)
Frank Andas (Norway)
|Gianluca Rocchi (Italy)||Elenito Di Liberatore (Italy)
Gianluca Cariolato (Italy)
The draw for the tournament took place on 24 April 2012. Great Britain, Mexico, Brazil and Spain were seeded for the draw and placed into groups A–D, respectively. The remaining teams were drawn from four pots with teams from the same region kept apart.
|Pot 1||Pot 2||Pot 3||Pot 4|
Group winners and runners-up advanced to the quarter-finals (also see Tie breakers).
|United Arab Emirates||3||0||1||2||3||6||−3||1|
|United Arab Emirates||1–2||Uruguay|
|Matar 23'||Report||Ramírez 42'
|Bellamy 20'||Report||Konaté 82'|
|Konaté 10', 37'||Report|
|Great Britain||3–1||United Arab Emirates|
|Senegal||1–1||United Arab Emirates|
|Konaté 49'||Report||Matar 21'|
|Aubameyang 45'||Report||Mehmedi 5' (pen.)|
|Dos Santos 63', 90+2' (pen.)||Report|
|Park Chu-young 57'
Kim Bo-kyung 64'
|Salah 40'||Report||Wood 17'|
|Bengtson 56', 65' (pen.)||Report||Barrada 39'
|Quarter-finals||Semi-finals||Gold medal match|
|A1||Great Britain||1 (4)|
|B2||South Korea (p)||1 (5)|
|B1||Mexico||3||Bronze medal match|
Dos Santos 98'
|Damião 38', 60'
Neymar 50' (pen.)
|Great Britain||1–1 (a.e.t.)||South Korea|
|Ramsey 36' (pen.)||Report||Ji Dong-won 29'|
|4–5|| Koo Ja-cheol
Damião 57', 64'
|Park Chu-young 38'
Koo Ja-cheol 57'
|Hulk 90+1'||Report||Peralta 1', 75'|
|South Korea (KOR)||6||2||3||1||5||5||0||9|
|Eliminated in the quarterfinals|
|5||Great Britain (GBR)||4||2||2||0||6||3||+3||8|
|Eliminated in the group stage|
|15||United Arab Emirates (UAE)||3||0||1||2||3||6||−3||1|
|16||New Zealand (NZL)||3||0||1||2||1||5||−4||1|
With six goals, Leandro Damião of Brazil is the top scorer in the tournament. In total, 76 goals were scored by 49 different players, with none of them credited as own goal.
For the first matchday at St James' Park, there were long queues at the box office, leading to fans missing some of the game. A spokesman for Ticketmaster said: "We saw extremely high numbers of spectators arriving at St James' Park to purchase football tickets on the day of the event. While Ticketmaster is contracted to manage the box offices at Olympic venues, the staff numbers at those venues are determined by LOCOG. We will continue to work closely with LOCOG to ensure that the box office staff levels are sufficient to meet the demands for ticket sales and collection". LOCOG described the situation as "totally and completely 100% unacceptable", and after changes were made in the process, the issue was reportedly avoided for the second round of matches.
During the matches held at the Wembley Stadium on 29 July, fans were subjected to long queues at the concession stands in the ground after Visa's card payment system crashed, leaving cash payment as the only alternative. The situation was compounded by the fact that, as Visa had been granted exclusive rights to the Olympics, other cards could not be accepted as payment, and the number of cash machines in the stadium had been reduced after 27 that worked on the LINK system had been removed to be replaced by eight that could only be used by Visa cards.
There were several problems relating to transport for events held at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. There was severe congestion at Cardiff Central railway station when Great Britain played South Korea; and the bronze medal match also had rail disruption when a retaining wall collapsed onto the tracks.
Swiss footballer Michel Morganella was sent home by the Switzerland team following their 2–1 loss against South Korea after he sent a tweet that, according to the director of Swiss Olympic Committee Gian Gilli, "discriminated, insulted and violated the dignity of the South Korean football team and people".
Following the criticism against Scottish female player Kim Little, for choosing not to sing the British national anthem "God Save the Queen" because of her national identity, other Scottish and Welsh players, Ryan Giggs, Craig Bellamy and Ifeoma Dieke, also attracted comment in the media for remaining silent. Giggs, the Great Britain men's captain, later said: "The problem is the British anthem is the same as the English anthem and if you're a Welshman or a Scotsman it's difficult".
After South Korea defeated Japan in the bronze medal match at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on 10 August, South Korean player Park Jong-woo walked around the field holding a banner with a political message written in Korean, "독도는 우리 땅!" (dokdo neun uri ttang, lit.: "Dokdo is our territory"). This incident occurred on the same night after South Korean President Lee Myung-bak had visited the islands which both South Korea and Japan claim as their territory. The IOC and FIFA reviewed the evidence, since FIFA statutes prohibit political statements being made by athletes at Olympic events. The IOC barred Park from the bronze medal ceremony and did not permit him to receive his medal. In addition, it asked FIFA to discipline Park, and stated that it may decide on further sanctions at a later date. IOC president Jacques Rogge told reporters: "We will take a possible decision of what will happen with the medal later". FIFA failed to reach a conclusion on the case at a meeting at its Zürich headquarters held on 5 October, and the disciplinary committee discussed the case again on the following week, then again failed to reach a verdict. After that, the Korean Olympic Committee (KOC) announced that Park would receive his bronze medal. The case was heard again by the committee on 20 November, and FIFA finally decided and announced on 3 December to suspend Park for two matches after he was considered to have breached the FIFA Disciplinary Code and the Regulations of the Olympic Football Tournaments. FIFA also imposed a warning on the Korea Football Association and reminded it of its obligation to properly instruct its players on all the pertinent rules and applicable regulations before the start of any competition, in order to avoid such incidents in the future. The Korea Football Association was warned that should incidents of such nature occur again in the future, the FIFA Disciplinary Committee may impose harsher sanctions on the Korea Football Association.