I understand that Olympic football technically classifies itself as amateur. In order to facilitate this, the rule of only having three players over the age of 23 is enforced. However, although these players may not be getting paid for their troubles it is impossible to deny that they are professional footballers.

So, why not go the extra step and allow players of all ages. Yes, FIFA and UEFA might have something to say about that but frankly having the three over age players rule reduces the standard of football that isn’t quite amateur but it certainly far worse than we’d all like to watch.

The GB squad is like a ‘who’s who’ of players that rarely play for their clubs. It’s embarrassing.

Then, teams like Brazil, who just happen to have most of their best players within the age limit, are allowed to play almost the exact same team that they will put forward for the World Cup in 2014. It’s a farce.

Can the winners really claim any kind of success when each nation is suffering from vastly different handicaps depending on whether or not their players are under or over a certain age?

Moreover, whilst some domestic leagues are conducive to the timing of the Olympics, others are not.

I know that even if we had all of our players we would still be unlikely to win but the fact that we have to take Marvin Sordell and Scott Sinclair when Brazil can take Neymar and Lucas Moura is thoroughly depressing.

For Spain too the rules are slightly ridiculous. They have a team easily capable of winning the tournament except for the fact that most of their players are in the prime of their careers, which somehow acts as a disadvantage as they’re not allowed to play.

I wholly support the idea of football in the Olympics. If the ‘women’s ten metre air rifle’ competition is worth a gold medal then football definitely is, but they shouldn’t be doing things in half measure.

Its understandable that the Olympic committee will probably be worried that many countries won’t enter a proper team due to club commitments but that is the choice of those players and those countries.

Just because a competition might not end up being even, it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t at least allow it the potential to be even. By enforcing rules like they have at the moment it is almost as though they are admitting that nobody will ever take football at the Olympics seriously so why should they bother to try and make it as important as the World Cup or other international tournaments.

They don’t have this age restricting rule with any of the other team sports so why do it with football. It makes no sense.

The winner of the 100m final at the Olympics this summer will be the best sprinter in the world, likewise the winner of the swimming and rowing and long jump and many other events will also be the best in their field. The winners of the football will not. They will be the best collection-of-players-under-23-accompanied-by-3-players-over-23 in the world. Doesn’t quite have the same ring to it does it? That’s because it’s a joke of an event, and it will remain so until something is done about these rules.

Follow me on Twitter @H_Mackay

 

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