Giant on the move
Does soccer belong at the Olympics?
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