The Official Website of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games August 8-24, 2008
COMPETITION INFORMATION
Competition format and rules
 
 
Olympic competition format
Men
The men's water polo competition features 12 teams of 13 players each (156 players all ). Teams compete in a round -robin format made of a preliminary, quarterfinal, semifinal and final round.
Preliminary Round
Teams are divided into two groups (A and B) of six teams. Each team plays a single round-robin within its own group.
Quarterfinal Round
The first placed teams in Group A and B will have a bye and will qualify directly to the semifinal round. The second and third placed teams play against each other in a cross group format. The losers play a series of classification matches.
Semifinal Round
The winners of the quarterfinals advance to the semifinals and play against the first-placed teams in each Group of the preliminary round. The losers play classification matches.
Final Round
The winners of the semifinals play the gold-medal match and the losers play for the bronze medal.
Classification Round
The fifth and sixth placed teams in Group A and B of the preliminary round play against each other in a cross group format to determine which teams play for 9th -12th place. These matches make up part of the quarterfinal round. The fourth placed teams from each group have a bye in this round.
The losers of the classification matches in the quarterfinal round play for 11th-12th place. The winners of the classification matches in the quarterfinals play the fourth-placed teams from each group to determine which of them play for 7th-10th place. These matches are part of the semifinal round.
The losers of the classification 7th-10th matches play each other for 9th-10th place. The winners play for 7th-8th place. The losers of the main draw quarterfinals play for 5th-6th place. These matches are part of the final round.

Women
The women's water polo competition features 8 teams of 13 players (104 players all). Teams compete in a round-robin format made of a preliminary, quarterfinal, semifinal and final round.
Preliminary Round
Two groups of four teams form Group A and B. These groups each play a single round robin.
Quarterfinal Round
The first-placed teams in Group A and B will have a bye and will qualify directly to the semifinal round. The fourth-placed teams in Group A and B play for 7th-8th place, while the remaining teams play cross matches against each other with winners advancing to the semifinals.
Semifinal Round
The losers of the quarterfinals play for 5th-6th place, while the winners play the first-placed teams in Group A and B of the preliminary round.
Final Round
The winners of the semifinals play the gold medal match and the losers play for the bronze medal.
 
Differences between the FINA World Championships and Olympic Games
The men's and women's competition format at the FINA World Championships consist of four groups of four teams. Teams play a single round robin in each group. The first-placed teams will have a bye. The second and third placed teams in each group play against each other in a cross group format. The fourth placed teams form a new group which consists of four teams that play for play for places 13th-16th in a cross group format.
The successful teams of the games between the second and third-placed teams advance to play against the first-placed teams to determine which teams progress to play off for places 1st-4th. The unsuccessful teams play against each other in a cross group format to determine places 9th-12th. The unsuccessful teams from the games against the first-placed teams play against each other in cross group format to determine places 5th-8th. 
 
Changes Since the Athens 2004 Olympic Games
According to the WP Rule (2005 - 2009), a few major changes occurred:
a) The duration of each period increased from 7 to 8 minutes. A 5-minute interval between the second and third periods replaced the 2-minute interval. The 5-minute interval between the two extra time periods was reduced to 2 minutes.
b) The 7-metre line for direct shots on goal was moved to 5 metres.
c) The 4-metre line for penalty throws was replaced by the 5-metre line.
d) The time of ball possession for each team before shooting decreased from 35 seconds to 30 seconds.
e) It is a penalty foul for a defending player intentionally to play or attempt to play the ball or to block or attempt to block a pass with two hands inside the 5-metre area.
f) It is a major foul for a defending player intentionally to play or attempt to play the ball or to block or attempt to block a pass with two hands outside the 5-metre area.
g) A corner throw is awarded if a shot is tipped out by the goalkeeper or if a defending player deliberately sends the ball over the goal line.
h) It is a goal throw if a defending player unintentionally tips the ball across the back line on a corner throw.
i) The head coach of the attacking team can advance to the 5-metre line nearest his team bench.
j) Simultaneous exclusion: when a player of each team simultaneously commits an exclusion foul, both players shall be excluded and the offensive team shall maintain the possession of the ball.
k) A goal could be scored with an immediate shot on a free throw, which was awarded outside 5 metres.
l) It is a penalty foul for an improper re-entry of an excluded player of a team not in possession of the ball.
m) For an act of brutality during the game or during the interval time, a penalty shot is awarded.The offending player is removed from the remainder of the game and may be substituted after 4 minutes actual play.
n) If a penalty throw is awarded in the last minute, a team may elect not to take the penalty throw and instead may elect to keep possession of the ball with a free throw.
 
Sport Rules and Procedures
 
Tie-Break Rules and Procedures
During the Final Rounds (Quarterfinal Round, Semifinal Round, Final Round) it is necessary to determine a winner for all matches. If the score of a match is tied at the end of regular time, there is a 5-minute interval. Two 3-minute periods of extra time are then played, with a 2-minute interval between periods. If the score remains tied a penalty shootout will determine the result. The penalty shootout will be held at the end of extra time. Five different players from each team will alternate with shots at goal. If the game is still tied, the same players will alternate until one team scores and the other misses.
Classification in each group shall be determined based on the greater number of points obtained in all the group matches.
a) If two teams shall have equal points, further classification shall be established as follows:
- The team winning the game between the two teams shall be placed higher.
- If the game between the two teams resulted in a tie, a further classification shall be established based on their results against the other teams including tied teams in order of their ranking; first based upon goal difference, and next, based upon goals scored. The comparison shall be made first, compared to the highest team or tied teams, and then, if still tied to the next highest team, and so on.
- If they are still tied, the tie shall be resolved by each team shooting five penalty shots at its opponent's goal in alternate succession. The first team shall take its first penalty shot and then the other team shall take its first penalty shot, etc.If a tie shall exist after that procedure, each team shall then take alternate shots until one team scores and the other misses. Different members of the team must shoot each shot. The procedure shall be conducted following the final game of that round or at the first practical opportunity.
b) If three or more teams shall have equal points, further classification shall be established as follows:
- Any time during the application of this item, when the number of the then tied teams is reduced to two, the rules above shall be followed.
- The results among the tied teams shall determine the placings. The comparison shall be made upon first, the points of the games among them, next, the goal difference, and next, based upon goals scored.
- If more than two teams are then still tied, a further classification shall be established based on their results against the other teams including tied teams in order of their ranking; first, based upon goal difference, and next, based upon goals scored. The comparison shall be made first, compared to the highest team or tied teams, and then, if still tied, to the next highest team or tied teams, and so on.
- If they are still tied, the tie shall be resolved by each team shooting five penalty shots at its opponent's goal in alternate succession. The first team shall take its first penalty shot and then the other team shall take its first penalty shot, etc.If a tie shall exist after that procedure, each team shall then take alternate shots until one team misses and the other scores. Different members of the team must shoot each shot. The procedure shall be conducted following the final game of that round or at the first practical opportunity.
- If there is more than one tie in a group, the highest placed tie shall be determined first.
The above tie-breaking criteria will be applied after the preliminary round.
During the preliminary round (before the end of the last game of a group), the teams will be ranked based on:
- number of points, then
- goal difference in all the matches, then
- greater number of goals scored in all the matches, then
- they will remain tied.
 
Penalties
A penalty shot is awarded:
a) For a goalkeeper or other defending player to pull down or otherwise displace the goal
b) For a defending player intentionally to play or attempt to play the ball or block a shot with 2 hands.
c) For a defending player to play intentionally to block or attempt to block a pass with 2 hands inside the 5-metre zone.
d) For a defending player to play the ball with a clenched fist.
e) For a goalkeeper or other defending player to take the ball under the water when tackled.
f) Other normal fouls as holding, pulling back, impeding will become a penalty foul if committed within the 5-metre zone by a defending player if a probable goal would otherwise have been scored.
g) For a defending player within the 5-metre zone to commit an act of brutality.
h) For an excluded player intentionally to interfere with play.
i) For a player or substitute who is not entitled under the Rules to participate in the play at that time to enter the field of play.
j) For the coach of the team not in possession of the ball to request a timeout or for a team official to take any action to prevent a probable goal.
 
Disqualification rules
Ejection of a player for the entire game (misconduct and brutality)
Players guilty of misconduct shall be excluded from the remainder of the game, with substitution at the earliest opportunity.
Misconduct offences include the use of unacceptable language, violent or persistent foul play, refuse obedience to or show disrespect for a referee or official, or behaviour against the spirit of the rules and likely to bring the game into disrepute.
If a player deliberately, as deemed by the referee, strikes or attempts to strike another player using any part of the body, the player will be excluded from the game (brutality). A substitute player can enter field of play after 4 minutes of play.
A player excluded for brutality shall receive a sanction to be determined by the FINA TWPC Commission.
 
Protests / Appeals
Protests are possible and shall be resolved according to the FINA Rules and Regulations. The TWPC Commission shall consider the protest and give recommendations to the Jury of Appeal.
 
Jury of Appeal
The Jury of Appeal is composed of FINA Bureau Members and Honorary Members present with the President or in his absence a Vice-President, as Chairman.
 
Classification Rules
In the Preliminary Round teams score 2 points for each match won, 1 point for each match drawn and zero points for each match lost. Teams are ranked and proceed to the next round on the basis of their total points.
 
Game Description
Water polo is a team water sport where two opposing teams compete against each other in order to score a higher number of goals. A men's playing field is 30x20m opposed to the women's 25x17m and the pool must be a minimum of 2 metres deep. Teams have 13 players, with a goalkeeper and six field players participating at any one time. A water polo game is made of four 8-minute periods/quarters of actual time with two-minute intervals between the first and the second period and the third and fourth period, and a 5-minute interval at halftime. Each quarter starts with teams lined up on opposite goal lines. The referee's whistle is the signal for teams to sprint towards the centre of the pool where the ball has been placed or dropped. During the game, players cannot touch the bottom or side of the pool and only the goalkeeper may handle the ball with more than one hand. A possession – or shot - clock controls time. Each team has 30 seconds to shoot the ball at the goal. If no shot is taken, a free throw is awarded to the opposing team. A separate game clock times the passing of each quarter. Fouls in water polo are divided into three types: ordinary, exclusion and penalty.
 
Note:
Information provided by Competition Management