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France, Germany, Sweden aim for gold

France, Germany and Sweden will represent Europe in the Olympic women's football tournament. We profile the contenders and hear from the three teams going for gold.

France, Germany, Sweden aim for gold
France, Germany, Sweden aim for gold ©Getty Images

The sixth Olympic women's football tournament kicks off the Games in Brazil on Wednesday. European contenders Sweden, Germany and France will all be hoping to emulate 2000 gold medallists Norway. We profile the European contenders.


Group G opponents: v Colombia (Wednesday, Belo Horizonte), v US (Saturday, Belo Horizonte), v New Zealand (Tuesday, Salvador)

Previous Olympics: 2012 fourth place

Key fact: France coach Philippe Bergeroo was in the squad that won the 1984 UEFA European Championship, the same year Les Bleus also claimed men's Olympic football gold under Henri Michel.

Camille Abily, France midfielder
"I would put the World Cup and the Olympic Games at the same level, because you are representing France at a worldwide level. At the Olympic Games you have the best nations there. You really have the feeling of belonging to the French team, along with other disciplines, other athletes. You can feel the unity and the power of it. We felt it in 2012. We felt a lot of support from all the different French teams that will go to Rio. It gives you some extra strength. So an Olympic medal would be fantastic."

Silvia Neid with men's Olympic coach Horst Hrubesch
Silvia Neid with men's Olympic coach Horst Hrubesch©Getty Images


Group F opponents : v Zimbabwe (Wednesday, Sao Paulo), v Australia (Saturday, Sao Paulo), v Canada (Tuesday, Brasilia)

Previous Olympics: 2008 bronze medal, 2004 bronze medal, 2000 bronze medal, 1996 group stage

Key fact: This is Silvia Neid's last tournament in charge after 11 years as head coach. Steffi Jones, currently an assistant and a 2000 and 2004 bronze medallist as a player, when Neid was herself No2 to Tina Theune, will take over.

Saskia Bartusiak, Germany defender
"Silvia Neid has been my coach since I started with the German national team, she's been there for almost all my international games. She is a fantastic coach, a great coach and has done an incredible amount for the women's game in Germany, and internationally as well. I don't know how many trophies she's won, that speaks for itself."

Sweden won a qualifying tournament in March
Sweden won a qualifying tournament in March©Getty Images


Group E opponents: v South Africa (Wednesday, Olympic Stadium, Rio de Janeiro), v Brazil (Saturday, Olympic Stadium, Rio de Janeiro), v China (Tuesday, Brasilia)

Previous Olympics: 2012 quarter-finals, 2008 quarter-finals, 2004 fourth place, 2000 group stage, 1996 group stage

Key fact: Pia Sundhage coached the United States to gold in 2008 and 2012 before returning home to take over the Sweden team.

Pia Sundhage, Sweden coach
"There is something very special about being in the Olympics, about being a part of the whole party. It is not just about football but all the sports there."

The two best third-placed teams will join the top two in each group in the quarter-finals.

  • Past Olympic medallists

2012: United States (gold), Japan (silver), Canada (bronze); London, United Kingdom
2008: United States (gold), Brazil (silver), Germany (bronze); Beijing, China
2004: United States (gold), Brazil (silver), Germany (bronze); Athens, Greece
2000: Norway (gold), United States (silver), Germany (bronze); Sydney, Australia
1996: United States (gold), China (silver), Norway (bronze); Atlanta, United States