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Last Updated: Friday, 4 June 2004, 14:38 GMT 15:38 UK
Beginner's guide to football
Women's football action from Sydney
The women's game attracts huge crowds
Fittingly, the most popular sport in the world will be the first played at the Olympics, with the preliminary round of matches starting before the opening ceremony.

As in Australia four years ago, matches in Greece will be played across the country.

Five different cities will host matches, with the finals being played in Athens.

The competition comprises 16 teams in the men's tournament, with 10 contesting the women's event.

The men will be split into four pools of four with the top two from each group going through to the quarter-finals, from where it will be a straight knockout tournament.

For the women, there will be three groups, two of three and one of four.

The top two in each group will qualify for the quarter-finals along with the third team in the group of four and the best third-placed team from the groups of three.

Like the men's event, the women's competition will be a straight knockout from thereon in.

The rules for the Olympic competition are exactly the same as for other major international football competitions apart from that it is an Under-23 tournament, with only three over-age players allowed in each squad.

The women's competition has no upper age limit, just that all players must be 16 or over.

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