Host City: Seoul, South Korea
Venue(s): Daegu Civic Stadium, Daegu; Daejeon Hanbat Stadium, Daejeon; Dongdaemun Stadium, Seoul; Gudeok Stadium, Busan; Mudeung Stadium, Gwangju; Olympic Stadium, Seoul Sports Complex, Seoul
Date Started: September 17, 1988
Date Finished: October 1, 1988
Format: Round-robin pools advance teams to single-elimination tournament of eight teams.
As in 1984, World Cup players from Europe and South America were still excluded from competition, but otherwise professionals could compete. For the first time since 1972, all qualified teams actually played at the Olympics. One major surprise in the group stages was Zambia's 4-0 victory over Italy's young professional players. In 1993, six of Zambia's players would die in a plane crash that killed 18 of Zambia's national team players, which included two 1980 Olympians as well.
The final rounds of the tournaments were closely contested, as the Soviet Union only defeated Italy after overtime, and Brazil needed penalty shots to rid themselves of the West German team. The final, too went into overtime, when Savichev decided the match. It was the USSR's second Olympic title (after 1956), and Brazil's second consecutive final loss. Many of the medal winning players went on to have great professional careers. Three West Germans (Klinsmann, Häßler and Riedle) played for the West German team that won the World Cup in 1990, while four Brazilians (Taffarel, Jorginho, Romário and Bebeto would lift the same trophy in 1994. The Soviets players never won another major title, although Mikhaylichenko had played and lost the final of Euro '88 earlier in the year.