Soccer guide - London 2012 Olympic Games

Your complete guide to football ahead of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Photograph: Football via Shutterstock

Converted: This will make up for losing all those World Cup bids.

Confused: Mickey Mouse tournament.

RECOMMENDED: See our full list of London 2012 Olympic sport guides

Football - The essential guide

Street cred: Soccer (in the UK, 'football') is a well-known sport in Britain already, which is kind of a problem because it means the Olympic event is not deemed as important as normal footbally things like star players' tabloid sex scandals.

Who’s good? Argentina have won the last two men’s gold medals.

The basics: It’s an under-23 tournament with three over-age players allowed in each squad. David Beckham wants to be one of them.

Athlete to watch: Spiky-haired teenager Neymar, the latest ‘new Pele’, will be leading the line for Brazil, where the quest for a maiden Olympic crown has become a national obsession. Lionel Messi might play for Argentina and he’s also quite good.

As featured in: ‘GB United? British Olympic Football and the End of the Amateur Dream’, by Steve Menary.

Almost useless fact: The first ever Olympic football tournament (Paris, 1900) was won by Upton Park FC, an amateur club.  

Do say: ‘The “British” team might be quite good.’

Don't say: ‘In-ger-land, In-ger-land, In-ger-land!’