EDITORIAL – So COVID-19 is still having a massive impact on the lives of billions of people. It’s also disrupted the sports world in many regards. Last week, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) moved the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games to next summer. This brings up a major complication for the Men’s Olympic Football tournament.
The IOC Should Change the Men’s Olympic Football age Rules for 2021
Men’s Football/Soccer in the Olympic Games has some unique player rules compared to other tournaments in the sport and other competitions in the Olympics. Nations are allowed a 23-man roster. At least twenty of those players must be 22-years-old or younger on January 1 of the year of that Olympic games. Each nation’s team is allowed three over-aged players as well.
That was all well and good two months ago when most of the world wasn’t bothered by Coronavirus. The games were set to take place. All but two spots in the Olympics had been claimed and CONCACAF teams were prepping to release their roster for the final qualification games.
Nine players who were on the Olympic qualification roster for the United States U-23 for Jason Kreis will be 23-years-old on or before the first of the new year.
With this rescheduling, suddenly every federation sending a men’s team to the Olympics has to make major decisions. Their best talent, their leaders, and possibly their captain are now ineligible under the current rules to partake in the tournament. An entire birth year of players from around the world will potentially be denied their primary chance to play in the Olympics.
Furthermore, the Summer Olympics will now take place in the same summer as COMNEBOL Copa Amerca, UEFA Euros, and CONCACAF Gold Cup. It will be nearly impossibly for fringe senior team players to play in both tournaments just based on the scheduling. Those players now have to choose.
The IOC should change the Men’s Olympic Football roster rules for next summer. Simply, players who would have been age eligible for the tournament as scheduled should be eligible to play next summer. It will give the tournament a better product with higher quality players and stars. It will protect the integrity of the competition.
Keeping the rules the same will be punishing older players and forcing coaches and federations to scramble because of the unforeseen Act of God pandemic that caused the games to be scheduled in the first place.