Changing China

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Does soccer belong at the Olympics?

August 23, 2008


FIFA president Sepp Blatter says he does not see any need to change the format of the Olympic soccer tournament, which is restricted to under-23 teams and allows each to field up to three overage players.

Many people, however, feel that soccer is something of an unwelcome gatecrasher at the Games and that not bringing its top players is rather like turning up at the party with a bottle of cheap plonk.

Like many compromises, the under-23 solution succeeds in pleasing nobody, the critics say.

But what should the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and FIFA do? It is an interesting dilemma.

Lifting the age limit could effectively create an alternative World Cup, devaluing the real thing, cluttering up the international calendar and infuriating the European clubs.

The other extreme would be to drop soccer altogether. But with a total of 2.14 million paying spectators at the 2008 Games, the most of any sport according to FIFA officials, this is hardly a feasible option, either.

PHOTO: Lionel Messi (R) of Argentina fights for the ball with Dele Adeleye of Nigeria during the men’s gold medal soccer match at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games August 23, 2008. REUTERS/Phil Noble


I would rather move the soccer off the Olympics

Posted by Zh | Report as abusive

To even think of removing soccer from the Olympics is ridiculous. It has produced some memorable matches over the years and the Beijing tournament was no exception — I can’t think of a World Cup 2006 match more entertaining that Nigeria’s 4-1 win over Belgium in the Beijing semis, or Belgium’s 3-2 quarter-final win over Italy. What about Ivory Coast’s 4-2 win over Serbia and the Argentina v Brazil semi-final?
The format is also good – it gives previously undiscovered under-23 players to shine while acclaimed talents such as Messi also seem to enjoy every minute of it. The only displeased lot are the wealthy clubs whose greed and self-interest is beyond comment. I am sure they wouldn’t mind having international football scrapped all-together.


For once, I am in total agreement with a Man-U fan… nuff said.

Posted by Five Times | Report as abusive

Whilst some of the football played at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games was great, I believe most fans would rather see more under 23′s, or even under 21′s,Seems strange for the likes of Messi on circa 150000 euros a week taking part in the Olympics, as mentioned above, we dont want another ‘World Cup’ pre season. As for Red Devil, Greedy clubs? whos paying the players wages? whos making millions out of these pro’s playing at the Olympics, not the clubs, who have to play for points without first team players. Keep Olympic Football, but allow the unknown under 23 / 21 players to form the teams and let the Pros who have already made it earn their wage packet for their club side!
Glory Glory.

Posted by Belfast RED - Glory Glory | Report as abusive

Either un-cap the age or dump the tournament. I’m sorry but every other team sport at the Olympics has the potential for full preofessional players. (Brugges said himself that Major League Baseball’s refusal to let players play in the Olympics is 90% of the reason it won’t be at London and I agree with that)
I mean you watch the basketball tournament and it is PACKED with the top talent from the NBA and pro leagues in Europe and the quality difference is very obvious because of it.
I think the ‘competing with the world cup’ excuse that FIFA floated as their opposition to the tournament to begin with is lame at best. If they are worried about lessening the World Cup they should force UEFA to not hold the European Championship since many these days see that as the tougher tournament to win.
Un-cap the age limit, make it an international date or get rid of it.


Either remove it completely, or restrict it to under 23 with no exceptions. There’s clearly no place for another major tournament, especially in the year of the Euro. Football is beautiful but enough is enough. But it would be OK if the standard U-23 tournament was played at the Olympics.

Posted by FF | Report as abusive

I honestly don’t understand some people on this thread moaning about what has been a truly great and vastly entertaining tournament. Why uncap the age-limit and create an alternative World Cup (although I doubt too many top players would sign up for it anyway) or close the door to three players over 23 who might never get another chance to play for their countries? As for Belfast Red, I can’t go along with your suggestion that players who want to take part in the Olympics shouldn’t be allowed to just because they are already established in the world market. And don’t forget Chelses had to let Drogba, Essien and Kalou take part in the African Nations Cup during the busiest time of the Premier League season.


I managed to catch some of the soccer from the Olympics.
As usual there was plenty of diving and play-acting (as the photo of Messi confirms).
Not an Olympic sport as far as I`m concerned.

Posted by Harry | Report as abusive

The Olympic Games is not the pinnacle for football – much like tennis for that matter.
As Red Devil says, they should either uncap the age limit, or make it purely an U23 tournament.

I, for one however, would like to see an alternative measure, with non-professional footballers taking part (much like how Olympic boxing is only for amateur boxers).

Posted by Bloginoffskiov | Report as abusive

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