32¢ Women’s Soccer
1996 Summer Olympics
Issue Date: May 2, 1996
City: Washington, DC and Atlanta, GA
Printed By: Stamp Venturers
Printing Method: Photogravure
For the first time ever, women’s soccer became a part of Olympic competition in 1996. Men’s soccer had been a part of the games since 1900, but with the introduction of the World Cup in 1930, the popularity of Olympic soccer had diminished. However, the rousing success of the U.S.-hosted 1994 World Cup, plus the addition of women’s soccer to the Olympic program, pointed the way to soccer’s return as a dominant Olympic sport.
While women’s soccer may not have the worldwide appeal of the men’s game, this competition was a highlight of the 1996 summer games. Not only was the U.S. women’s team one of the few competitors favored to win the gold, but unlike the men’s event (which was limited to just three players over age 23 per team), participants in the women’s event faced no restrictions, ensuring the presence of top players.
Unlike many other Olympic sports, the rules and equipment for women’s soccer do not differ from the men’s. Qualifiers for the Summer Olympic Games are determined by the Women’s World Championship. The eight qualifying teams play in two groups of four, with the top two in each group advancing to the semi-finals and a final. A play-off determines third place.