Giant on the move
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.
The cheers before kickoff in the Beijing Workers’ Stadium were for five-times world champions Brazil and Ronaldinho. At the final whistle, the Chinese crowd rose to acclaim Argentina after a 3-0 win against nine-man Brazil sent them through to the Olympic final.
China may be a relatively untapped soccer market, but the 50,000 plus crowd knew that the best team had won on the night.
Argentina could yet pay a heavy price for the deal which has allowed Lionel Messi to play at the Olympic Games.
A lengthy tug-of-war with Barcelona for Messi’s services ended with the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruling that Barcelona were not obliged to release him for the Olympics.