5 facts that prove football is the most interesting sport in the Olympics


What's your favourite sport at the Olympics? After reading this, it will definitely be football.

As Rio draws ever closer, we're taking a look at each of the Olympic sports in turn. This week, we're shooting off to the range.

1. As if the 1936 Olympics were not already controversial enough, events in the football competition caused a quite a stir.

Peru rallied from two goals down to beat Austria 4-2 in a bad-tempered quarter-final. The Austrians protested over a pitch invasion by Peruvian fans, and the IOC responded by annulling the result and ordering a replay behind closed doors. The Peruvians refused, and their entire delegation immediately flew home from the Games.

2. Early Olympic football competitions were blighted by mis-matches.

Not least in 1908, when Denmark racked up a 17-1 group stage win over France, with striker Soren Nielsen scoring 10 goals. Helpfully, the Danish team also included Harald Bohr, an eminent mathematician who founded the field of almost periodic functions, whatever that means. In layman's terms, it meant there was no danger of the Danes losing count.

3. When two competing nations are technically at war, it's best not to get their flags mixed up.

Olympics 2012
(Lynne Cameron/PA)

But that's what happened prior to the 2012 women's match between North Korea and Colombia in Glasgow, when images of the North Korean players were flashed on to a giant screen next to the South Korean flag. The North Koreans promptly left the field, returning one hour later only after being assured the mistake had been rectified.

4. You would think Brazilian superstar Rivaldo will be one of the chief ambassadors for the Rio Games this summer, right? Wrong.

(Matthew Ashton/EMPICS Sport)

The 44-year-old, who lives in the US, reacted to a recent tragic shooting by urging tourists to stay away from the Games: "You are putting your life at risk here," he said.

5. How's this for a timely anecdote: the Great Britain squad for the 1900 Games was made up entirely of players from Upton Park FC.

They won gold, although their medals were awarded retrospectively because of football's status as a demonstration sport. Unfortunately, this is where the coincidence ends: Upton Park FC had no connection to the ground of the same name, and never played there. Oh well.