Football was not in the original modern Olympic Games program as international football was not that popular in 1896. However an unofficial football tournament was organised during the first competition. Complete records have been lost and may not even be true but it seems that only two games may have been played. An Athens XI lost to a team representing Smyrna (Izmir), then part of the Ottoman Empire. Smyrna went on to be beaten 15-0 by a team from Denmark. Demonstration tournaments were played at the 1900 and 1904 games and the "Intercalated Games" of 1906, but these were contested by various clubs and scratch teams, and are not considered to be official Olympic events. Neither FIFA nor the IOC recognize the Intercalated Games. The first proper tournament is said to be in the 1908 Olympics, organized by the The Football Association. It had 6 teams. The next tournament was organized by the Swedish Football Association in 1912. However, the tournament was very unbalanced, with some high scoring games such as 10-0 and 12-0, and all of the players were amateurs.
For the 1984 Olympics, the IOC admitted professional players.
Since the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, all teams have to be under-23 years old. Since 1996, three over 23 players are allowed.
A women's edition was added in 1996. The women's tournament has no age restrictions, unlike the men's tournament.