Pots set for men's, women's Olympic soccer draws
The pots have been set for next week's Olympic soccer tournament draw, with the 28 men's and women's teams set to learn their group fate next Thursday.
The draw will be held at the famed Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro, which will host the gold medal matches for both the men's and women's tournaments. In both competitions, teams from the same confederation will be prevented from being drawn together in the same group. The men's tournament is an Under-23 competition (teams are allowed to bring three over-age players), while the women's tournament is a senior national team competition. The U.S. women have won Olympic gold in four of the five tournaments since women's soccer became an Olympic sport in 1996, settling for silver at Sydney 2000.
The women's pots are based on the most recent FIFA world ranking, which the USA tops. The Americans are joined by host Brazil and 2015 Women's World Cup semifinalist Germany in the top pot. The 12-team field will be broken into three groups of four, with the top two finishers in each group and the best two third-place finishers advancing to the quarterfinals.
Pot 1: Brazil, USA, Germany
Pot 2: France, Australia, Sweden
Pot 3: Canada, China PR, New Zealand
Pot 4: Colombia, South Africa, Zimbabwe
The men's pots are based off the past five Olympic tournament results. According to FIFA:
"The ranking is weighted so that recent performances play a more prominent role, and a bonus is given to those nations who finished their qualifying competition as continental champions."
Mexico, the defending gold medalist, joins 2012 silver medalist Brazil, Argentina and Japan in the top pot. Out of the four groups of four, the top two teams in each group advance to the quarterfinals. Despite its storied history, Brazil has never won the Olympic gold medal and is aiming to do so on home soil. It will reportedly have Neymar as one of its three over-age players, though there remains a tussle over his availability in summer competitions. SI's Grant Wahl reported this week that Neymar and his people are making a last-ditch effort to let him play in both Copa America Centenario and the Olympics, while Barcelona reportedly only wants to release him for the Olympics.
Pot 1: Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Japan
Pot 2: Nigeria, Korea Republic, Honduras, Iraq
Pot 3: Sweden, Fiji, Portugal, South Africa
Pot 4: Algeria, Colombia, Denmark, Germany