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FIFA sticks to age restrictions

FIFA sticks to age restrictions

FIFA has no plans to strengthen Olympic football with full national teams, preferring to stick with its age restrictions despite the sport's low profile compared with track and field, swimming and gymnastics.
Sepp Blatter, president of football's world governing body, said Thursday that FIFA has always refused to allow the Olympic tournament to rival its own World Cup. That's why the restrictions were introduced 20 years ago with the addition of three overage stars.
He said the Olympic competition should remain an important stage in the development of players and not be the final achievement.
"This system was established in 1988 and we should not leave this system," Blatter said.
Football has been in the Summer Games since 1908, but it has never had the same impact as other sports that see the Olympics as bigger than their own world championships. Even the appearance in Beijing of AC Milan's Ronaldinho for Brazil and FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi for Argentina can't compete in terms of acclaim with American swimmer Michael Phelps, who won a record eight gold swim medals, and Usain Bolt, the Jamaican sprinter who set world records in the 100 and 200 meters.
Football has drawn a record overall attendance of 1.9 million, with four more men's and women's games to go. Blatter said FIFA will study this competition and decide whether to make any changes to the men's competition, maybe increase the number of overage players or even scrap them altogether.
Blatter said 13 of the players taking part in Saturday's final between Argentina and Nigeria faced each other in the 2005 under-20 world championship _ eight from Nigeria and five from Argentina, including Messi, one of the biggest stars ever to play in the Olympics.
"This is to say that in the development of football there are no miracles," he said. "You have to start organizing youth competitions if you are to take home the medals in the high-level competitions."
Blatter said there were no overage players on Nigeria's starting team and only two in Argentina's, reflecting a trend among the 16 teams in the competition.
"This is good," Blatter said. "That's why there should be a decision _ it's 23 and full stop and then there's no more discussion."


Updated : 2021-06-14 04:54 GMT+08:00