Author Topic: Let's kick football out of the Olympics  (Read 718 times)

Offline David

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Let's kick football out of the Olympics
« on: April 27, 2008, 11:18:16 AM »
Starter for 10: Which is the bigger event - the World Cup or the Olympic Games? Answer: the World Cup. Why? Because the Olympic Games wants football at the Olympic Games, but the World Cup doesn't want Olympic events at the World Cup.

Like many of you, I don't think football - and a lot of other sports - should be at the Olympics. Football has its own championship. The Olympics should be limited to running, throwing, weightlifting, that sort of thing. Things you might see a bloke, wearing a fig leaf, doing on the side of an old vase.
Will I be watching the football when the games start in Beijing? You bet! And to increase my enjoyment of the event, I've schooled up on a bit of the history.

Football's been part of the Olympics since 1900, although the first two tournaments were Mickey Mouse affairs, contested by clubs and scratch teams, and with scores being horribly lopsided, it sounds like "Mums and Dads Day" down at your local club was a more competitive affair. As such, Fifa didn't recognise the tournaments as official, and the Fifa-ites should know. Many of them were probably there.

The tournament grew and, in the 1920s, big guns Uruguay and Argentina entered. In those days, Uruguay were the world's major force, and they won gold in 1924 and 1928, and the World Cup in 1930. But now that Fifa had its own World Cup, it didn't want the Olympic soccer overshadowing the Cup, so Fifa dumped it from the 1932 games in Los Angeles. To prove Fifa had gold medal spin doctors, the reason it gave was that football wasn't popular in the States. But the Germans, desperate for the income the huge crowds would generate, had football reinstated in 1936. Hitler was on hand to see his team lose to Norway in the second round.

By 1948, professional football was widespread, causing a problem for the Olympics, which only allowed amateurs. But the Eastern Bloc nations sent their best players, who were officially amateur, but were state-sponsored and trained and played as fulltime pros. So, of the 27 medals up for grabs from 1948-80, the Eastern Bloc nabbed 23. An example of politics and sport mixing very nicely.

The IOC wanted to spruce up football at the games, so decided to admit the pros in 1984. Fifa still wasn't going to allow the top guns from Europe and South America to take part, to protect the World Cup's status as the No 1 tournament, so it said that all other nations could use their top pros, but Europe and South America could only select players who'd never played in a World Cup. That effectively made it a handicap event, although that didn't stop the young French side from winning gold in 1984. It was a great period for France, winning the European championship in the same year, and reaching the World Cup semifinals in 1982 and 1986.

Fifa and the IOC settled on a compromise of young professionals competing at the Olympics, and since 1992 the Olympic tournament has been an under-23 event. This suits Africa, with Nigeria and Cameroon winning gold in 1996 and 2000.

Great Britain hasn't featured in Olympic football in recent years, and that's because it's in a pickle. England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are separate entities within Fifa, but at the Olympics, Great Britain enters as one nation. If Great Britain entered a football team at the Olympics, that might lead for calls for Great Britain to unite for the World Cup. With the 2012 games being held in London, Great Britain is expected to enter men's and women's teams in the football. Can you imagine how many cuppas and scones all the fuddy duddies on the various associations will consume sorting that out?

http://www.stuff.co.nz/4498442a2201.html