Host City: Melbourne, Australia
Date Started: November 23, 1956
Date Finished: December 8, 1956
Participants: 143 (143 men and 0 women) from 11 countries
Youngest Participant: Dragoslav Å ekularac (18 years, 359 days)
Oldest Participant: Oros Witarsa (40 years, 39 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): 46 athletes with 1 medal
Most Medals (Country): 3 countries with 1 medal
The increasing number of teams entered, with 27 at Helsinki in 1952, forced FIFA to institute qualifying tournaments. Other than the hosts, Australia, and Germany, Poland, and Turkey, which were given byes, a qualifying competition was held on a regional basis across the world. Each pairing was contested over two legs, with the winners qualifying for the Olympic Games. The 12 qualifying teams were Bulgaria, China, Egypt, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Japan, Soviet Union, Thailand, United States, Vietnam, and Yugoslavia to yield a 16-team field.
However, a number of withdrawals took place before the Olympic Games. China was ineligible to compete as they were not yet recognized by the International Olympic Committee, and Egypt, Hungary, Poland, Vietnam, and Turkey withdrew for a mixture of political and financial reasons. Great Britain was invited to take part as a replacement for Poland, which they accepted. The Republic of Korea (South) was also invited to take part as a replacement for Hungary, but they declined the invitation, leaving a final field of 11 teams.
The matches took place at Melbourne Cricket Ground and the Olympic Park Stadium, both in Melbourne. The tournament was single-elimination. The Soviet Union won the gold medal with a 1-0 victory over Yugoslavia, who won their third consecutive silver medal.