The objective of soccer is for one team to put a ball in their opponent’s goal as many times as possible while defending their own. With the exception of the goalkeeper, all players are unable to touch the ball with their hands and arms.

Each game lasts approximately 90 minutes, with stoppage time added at both the end of the 45-minute first half and the end of the game at the officials’ discretion. Each team has 11 players on the field, including the goalkeeper. If the ball is sent out of bounds, the team which last touched the ball concedes possession to the other team.

While minimal contact between players is permitted, for incidents where an official deems the contact to be violent or excessive, they may award a yellow (caution) or red card (expulsion) to the offending player.

COC Photo: Mike Ridewood

Christine Sinclair / COC Photo: Mike Ridewood

In the Olympic tournaments, teams are divided into pools of four. Following a preliminary round robin – where a win is worth three points, a tie worth one point and a loss worth zero points – the top teams advance to the knockout stage, beginning with the quarterfinals. Those winners advance to the semifinals, from which the winners play for gold and silver while the losers play for bronze. If a knockout match is tied after regulation time, two-15 minute extra-time periods are played and followed, if necessary, by penalty kicks to determine a winner.

Canada’s Olympic History

Canada has won  three Olympic medals in soccer. The first came at St. Louis 1904 where the Galt Football Club won Canada’s only gold in the sport. Canada has played in just two men’s Olympic tournaments since then, Montreal 1976 and Los Angeles 1984. At London 2012, after losing a heart-breaking semifinal to the United States, the Canadian women’s team won bronze by defeating France 1-0 on Diana Matheson’s goal in stoppage time (92nd minute). That was just the second time Canada had entered the women’s tournament following Beijing 2008. At Rio 2016, Canada found themselves playing again for the bronze medal, this time versus Brazil. In a 2-1 victory, a new hero emerged in Deanne Rose who scored the opening goal and assisted on the other goal.