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Betting on Soccer at the Olympics

It is no secret that soccer is one of the most popular sports to bet on. There are an estimated 3.5 billion soccer fans worldwide, and soccer betting opportunities are seemingly endless.

But have you ever considered betting on soccer at the Olympics?

For one reason or another, even some of the most enthusiastic sports gamblers overlook Olympic soccer betting. Of course, the popularity of the FIFA World Cup means that Olympic soccer doesn’t always get the coverage it deserves. Still, betting on Olympic soccer can be hugely profitable.

That’s exactly why we have put together this guide to soccer betting at the Olympics. We share our top tips for betting on Olympic soccer, discuss the differences between men’s and women’s soccer at the Games, and much more.

Let’s kick things off!

Format of Olympic Soccer Tournaments

The format of soccer tournaments at the Olympics has changed a few times over the years, with various alterations made to the schedule. However, the same format has been used for the past few Games.

Naturally, it is important that you know how the format works if you want to partake in Olympics soccer betting and win money.

In this section, we cover the different stages of the Olympic soccer tournament and explain how each stage works.

Qualifying for Soccer at the Olympics

The host nation is always automatically handed a spot in the tournament. But all the other countries must qualify to book their place at the Games.

Nations compete in different qualifying tournaments based on geographical location, with a selection of countries from each federation making it to the Olympics.

For example, the Czech Republic men’s team qualified for Rio 2016 via the 2015 UEFA European Under-21 Championship, while Fiji qualified through the 2015 Pacific Games.

The 2015 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Championship allowed both Honduras and Mexico to punch their ticket to the Games, and Algeria, Nigeria, and South Africa qualified via the 2015 Africa U-23 Cup of Nations.

In total, 16 men’s teams and 12 women’s team compete at the Olympics.

Group Stage

The Olympic soccer tournament begins with the group stage, which divides teams into groups of four. The men’s competition has four groups, while the women’s tournament has three.

Teams from the same federation are kept apart during the group stage, meaning two nations from the same continent can’t face each other in the first phase of the competition.

Every team plays the other countries in their group once. The regular soccer points system is used to decide the final group standings.

  • Win = 3 Points
  • Draw = 1 Point
  • Loss = 0 points

In the men’s tournament, the top two teams from each group qualify for the quarter-finals. The bottom two nations from each group are then eliminated from the competition.

With only 12 countries competing in the women’s tournament, the top two sides from each group qualify automatically, with the two best third-placed teams also making it through.

Onto the knockouts!

Knockout Phase

The knockouts are straightforward. Each team is drawn against a quarter-final opponent, with the winning side from each quarter-final advancing to the semi-finals.

The same format is used for the semi-finals. The remaining four teams battle it out for a place in the final (or gold medal match), with the losing semi-finalists heading into the bronze medal match.

Whoever wins the final wins gold. The losing finalist claims the silver medal.

When it comes to betting on soccer at the Olympics, it is worth noting that knockout games can go to extra-time and penalties.

  • If the score is level after 90 minutes, an extra 30 minutes will be played to decide the outcome.
  • If the score is still level after extra-time, a penalty shootout is played to determine the winner.

Soccer Betting Markets at the Olympics

Betting markets for Olympic soccer

One of the best things about betting on Olympic soccer is the vast range of Olympic soccer betting markets.

Every time the Games come around, the top Olympics betting sites invariably provide us with a host of options.

This means we have countless opportunities to take advantage of their Olympic soccer odds and try to make some money.

Let’s take a look at the best markets for betting on soccer at the Olympic Games.

Betting on Olympics Soccer Matches

Here are the main Olympic soccer betting markets for individual games.

  • Match Result – The most popular option for betting on Olympic soccer matches. This market enables you to pick the winner of a game or select the draw.
  • Both Teams to Score – If you think both teams will score during a match, use this market. You can also select “no” if you don’t think both sides will find the back of the net.
  • Over/Under Goals – This Olympic soccer betting market allows you to predict the total number of goals in a game. For example, over 3.5 goals or under 2.5 goals.
  • Correct Score – Predicting the correct scoreline can be tough, but it can also land you a nice profit. For instance, you could choose 1-0 or 3-2.
  • First/Anytime Goalscorer – You can back a player to score the first goal in a match, or you can back them to net at any point during the game.
  • Half-Time/Full-Time – Use this market if you think a team will be winning at both half-time and full-time.
  • Draw No Bet – This market for soccer betting at the Olympics gives you a bit of insurance. Back a team to win, but if the match is drawn, you get your stake back.
  • Double Chance – This market also gives you a bit of leeway, as you are effectively covering two lines. For example, “Team A and Draw” or “Team A and Team B”.

There is also a wide range of live markets available when it comes to wagering Olympic soccer matches. If in-play gambling interests you, we suggest checking out our guide to live soccer betting.

It’s now time to cover the Olympic soccer futures markets.

Betting on Olympic Soccer Futures

Here are details on the most popular futures markets for football betting at the Olympic Games.

  • Tournament Winner – This is as simple as it gets. All you have to do is pick a team/nation and back them to win gold.
  • Podium Finish – You can also bet on a country to finish on the podium. Essentially, this market enables you to pick a team to win a medal.
  • Top Goalscorer – If you think that a player will score the most goals throughout the tournament, back them to finish as the top scorer.
  • Group Winners – This market for betting on soccer at the Olympics allows you to predict which teams will finish first in each group.

 Next up, Olympic football betting tips.

Tips for Betting on Olympic Soccer

While betting on Olympic soccer is similar to gambling on any soccer tournament, there are a few factors that make Olympic soccer betting unique.

This section covers some top tips for football betting at the Olympics.

Study the Qualifying Tournaments

The various Olympic qualifying tournaments can give us a great indication of what will happen when the Games get underway.

All the federations have different qualification routes. If you are serious about soccer betting at the Olympics, you should keep an eye on all the qualifying competitions to see how each team fares in the lead-up to the Games.

Some nations may cruise through the qualifiers and look great, meaning they are more likely to perform well at the Olympics. Other countries might only scrape through, suggesting they could struggle at the main event.

It is also worth mentioning that men’s soccer at the Olympics has an under-24 age restriction, with three over-age players allowed on each roster.

With many of the qualifying tournaments happening one or two years before the Games, players that starred for their team during the qualification period may not be eligible to feature at the Olympics if they exceed the age limit.

That leads us to the next set of tips for betting on football at the Olympics.

Research the Teams and Look for Star Players

With no age restriction impacting the women’s tournament, Olympic rosters are always stacked with the best female players on the planet.

Stars such as Marta (Brazil) and Abby Wambach (USA) are among the top goalscorers in the history of Olympic soccer – and names like that need no introduction.

When it comes to betting on women’s soccer at the Olympics, backing the teams with the most high-profile players is obviously a good idea. However, identifying star players on the men’s rosters can often be tricky, since many of them are young and unknown.

That’s why we recommend scouring the teams for up-and-coming stars before the Games begin.

It is no coincidence that Carlos Tevez was the top scorer when Argentina won gold at the 2004 Olympics. The striker wasn’t a household name back then, but he went on to win 76 caps for the senior side and played for elite clubs like Manchester United, Manchester City, and Juventus.

Notable players such as Romario (1988), Hernan Crespo (1996), and Serge Gnabry (2016) have also finished as the top scorers at the Olympics before establishing themselves as world-class stars.

If you research the teams and recognize players that could hold the key to their nation’s success, your Olympic soccer betting will have an advantage.

Take Advantage of the Goal-Based Markets

Of course, we recommend that you make full use of all the different types of Olympics football betting markets that bookmakers offer. That said, some markets can be far more lucrative than others.

During the group stage, the strongest teams in the competition often come up against the weakest sides. Naturally, the price for a bookies’ favorite to beat a ranked outsider will usually be very low.

If you’re looking for a safe bet, backing the favorite to overcome the underdog is fine. But if you want to make a notable profit while gambling on Olympic soccer, we suggest delving into the goal-based markets.

For example, Germany’s men thrashed Fiji 10-0 at Rio 2016. The price for Germany to win that game would have been extremely small. However, the odds for Germany to score over 9.5 goals would have been huge.

Top Tip
Instead of backing a clear favorite to beat an obvious outsider, make the most of the goal-based markets and find better value in the bookies’ Olympic soccer odds.

Olympics Betting on Men’s Soccer vs. Women’s Soccer

If you are betting on soccer at the Olympics, it is worth remembering that the men’s tournament is different compared to the women’s competition.

Sure, both tournaments follow roughly the same format, and the end goal is the same. But if you want to win your Olympic football bets, familiarizing yourself with the differences between the two competitions is key.

Here are the most notable differences between men’s and women’s Olympic soccer.

Men’s Women’s
16 teams 12 teams
Under-24 age restriction No age restriction
First Olympics – 1900 First Olympics – 1996
Not viewed as an important tournament One of the most prestigious titles in the game

As we already know, the men’s competition comprises 16 teams, while the women’s tournament only has 12.

Men’s soccer has been an Olympic sport since 1900. By contrast, women’s soccer was only introduced at Atlanta 1996.

Still, the most obvious difference between the two competitions is the age limits.

While the women’s game has no age restriction, there is an under-24 age restriction for the men’s tournament. This was imposed to ensure the FIFA World Cup retained its status as the number-one event in men’s soccer.

The age limit used to be 23, but following the postponement of Tokyo 2020, players aged 24 and under can now compete.

The under-24 age restriction has its exceptions, though. The men’s teams can select three over-age players in their rosters, giving the more experienced players the chance to represent their country at the Games.

How Do Age Restrictions Impact Olympic Soccer Betting?

The age restriction for the men’s tournament means that coaches generally field inexperienced teams. This can lead to so-called “smaller” nations upsetting the Olympics soccer odds and surprising the “bigger” countries.

When you’re betting on men’s football at the Olympic Games, you should always research the teams and players before parting ways with your cash.

If we’re being completely honest, nobody expected Cameroon to win gold in Sydney back in 2000, did they? Similarly, Mexico shocked everyone by going all the way at London 2012.

Mexico and Cameroon were surprise winners at past Olympic soccer tournaments.

Just because a nation boasts a world-class senior team, that doesn’t necessarily mean that country will perform well at the Olympics.

Brazil has won more FIFA World Cups than any other side, triumphing on five occasions. However, they have only claimed gold once at the Olympics. Both Germany and Italy have won four World Cups, yet they have just one Olympic triumph to their name, too.

Considering statistics like this is vitally important when betting on Olympic football.

Olympic Soccer is Highly Prestigious for Women

While winning an Olympic medal in men’s soccer isn’t viewed as a peak career achievement, the Olympics is arguably the pinnacle of the women’s game.

Although we have seen multiple shocks in men’s soccer at the Games over the years, the women’s tournament rarely dishes up surprises.

When you couple the high esteem of women’s Olympic soccer with the absence of any age restrictions, it is hardly surprising that the nations with the most World Cup titles have also excelled in the Olympics.

MOST SUCCESSFUL NATIONS IN WOMEN’S SOCCER
Nation World Cup Titles Olympic Medals
United States 4 5 (4 gold)
Germany 2 4 (1 gold)
Norway 1 2 (1 gold)
Japan 1 2 (0 gold)

Only four countries have won a women’s World Cup title – the USA, Germany, Norway, and Japan.  Of those four, the US, Germany, and Norway are the only three nations with an Olympic gold medal.

The United States has won four of the eight women’s World Cups since the tournament began in 1991, and they also won four of the six Olympic golds since 1996.

This is why betting on women’s soccer at the Olympics is totally different than gambling on the men’s tournament. With the very best players in the women’s game on show at the Olympics, the top teams invariably claim the medals.

Most Successful Countries at Olympic Soccer

Of course, you could place your Olympic soccer bets without looking at the history books. But if you want to make the most of your Olympic soccer betting experience, we highly recommend researching past medal winners.

Here are the most successful nations in the history of Olympic football.

Top Men’s Soccer Teams at the Olympics

As the table below shows, men’s soccer has been hugely competitive at the Olympics over the years. In fact, 19 different countries have won gold.

Men’s soccer has been featured at 26 Games, yet only five nations have finished atop the podium on more than one occasion. 14 countries have won just one gold medal in men’s soccer at the Olympics.

MEN’S OLYMPIC SOCCER – GOLD MEDAL WINNERS
Nation Gold Medals Years
Hungary 3 1952, 1964, 1968
Great Britain 3 1900, 1908, 1912
Argentina 2 2004, 2008
Soviet Union 2 1956, 1988
Uruguay 2 1924, 1928
Brazil 1 2016
Yugoslavia 1 1960
Poland 1 1972
Spain 1 1992
East Germany 1 1976
Nigeria 1 1996
Czechoslovakia 1 1984
France 1 1980
Italy 1 1936
Sweden 1 1948
Belgium 1 1920
Cameroon 1 2000
Canada 1 1904
Mexico 1 2012

CLICK TO CLOSE

With three golds to their name, Hungary and Great Britain are the most successful men’s teams in Olympic football history.  Each of Hungary’s medals were won over the span of five games between 1952 and 1968, while Team GB’s last triumph was in 1912.

Argentina is the last country to claim back-to-back gold, winning in 2004 and 2008. Mexico (2012) and Brazil (2016) have triumphed since then.

It is worth pointing out that the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, East Germany, and Czechoslovakia have all disbanded.

Although the Brazilians have only clinched one gold in men’s Olympic soccer, they currently find themselves at the top of the overall medal table.

MOST OLYMPIC SOCCER MEDALS (MEN)
Nation Gold Silver Bronze Total
Brazil 1 3 2 6
Hungary 3 1 1 5
Soviet Union 2 3 5
Yugoslavia 1 3 1 5
Argentina 2 2 4
Denmark 3 1 4

Brazil claimed silver in 1984, 1988, and 2012, along with bronze in 1996 and 2008. Argentina’s silver   came in 1928 and 1996.

Interestingly, Denmark is the only nation to claim four or more medals without winning gold. The Danes sealed silver in 1908, 1912, and 1960, as well as bronze in 1948.

Most Successful Nations in Women’s Soccer at the Olympics

While men’s soccer has been an Olympic sport since 1900, the women’s game was only introduced in 1996.

In total, eight countries have won an Olympic medal in women’s football. But as you can see from the table below, it’s safe to say the United States has enjoyed the most successes since 1996.

WOMEN’S OLYMPIC SOCCER – OVERALL MEDAL TABLE
Nation Gold Silver Bronze Total
United States 4 1 5
Germany 1 3 4
Norway 1 1 2
Brazil 2 2
China 1 1
Japan 1 1
Sweden 1 1
Canada 2 2

Only three nations have clinched gold in Olympic women’s soccer – and four of the six golds have been won by the US. Team USA also won silver in Sydney in 2000.

Norway (2000) and Germany (2016) are the other two countries with a gold medal to their name, while the Germans have also claimed bronze a record three times (2000, 2004, 2008).

WOMEN’S SOCCER OLYMPIC MEDAL WINNERS BY YEAR
Olympics Gold Silver Bronze
Rio 2016 Germany Sweden Canada
London 2012 United States Japan Canada
Beijing 2008 United States Brazil Germany
Athens 2004 United States Brazil Germany
Sydney 2000 Norway United States Germany
Atlanta 1996 United States China Norway

The US won four of the first five golds at the Olympic Games, including three straight triumphs between 2004 and 2012. However, Germany ended the USA’s hegemony in Rio.

Basing your Olympic soccer predictions solely on previous records isn’t wise. But when it comes to betting on football at the Olympics, you should always consider past winners.

Why You Should Bet on Olympic Soccer

For many people, soccer is one of the best sports to bet on at the Olympics. After all, it is the most popular sport on the planet.

Except for a few specific Olympic soccer betting tips to bear in mind, gambling on football at the Games is no different than betting on any other soccer tournament.

The same can be said for a lot of other Olympic sports, too. Popular sports such as tennis, golf, hockey, and volleyball are enjoyed by bettors around the world – and we also have Olympic betting guides for those sports.

  • Betting on Olympic Tennis
  • Betting on Olympic Golf
  • Betting on Olympic Hockey
  • Betting on Olympic Volleyball

On the flip side, another fun aspect of betting on the Olympics is getting involved with sports that you wouldn’t normally think to bet on.

Along with some of the Olympic staples like sailing, swimming, and rowing, extreme sports such as skateboarding and surfing have been introduced to the Games in recent years, giving us even more opportunities to bet on the Olympics.

If you’re looking for more Olympic content, why not head over to our Olympics blog? Our team of experts add posts to the blog on a regular basis, covering both past and upcoming Olympic Games.