Soccer - Blatter wants no changes to Olympic format
BEIJING (Reuters) - FIFA president Sepp Blatter said he did not want any changes to the controversial format for Olympic Games soccer and promised there would be no repeat of the confusion over the participation of Argentina's Lionel Messi.
Soccer, limited to under-23 teams with each allowed to field up to three overage players, is one of the few sports which does not bring its top athletes to the Games.
Critics say this creates a hybrid tournament which clutters up an already bursting international calendar.
Blatter said that FIFA and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) would meet after the Games to discuss the rules for the 2012 tournament in London.
"This system was established in 1988 and I think we should not leave (alter) this system," Blatter told reporters, adding that lifting the limit could create an alternative World Cup.
"The FIFA World Cup could not be repeated because the players are not available," he said.
"This was the arrangement we made with the Olympic movement and... so far, the IOC is happy and especially the organisers of the Olympic Games."
Blatter said attendances for Olympic soccer had been good since 1988, except in Barcelona in 1992 and Athens in 2004.
"In Europe, they are pampered," he said. "But ask the organisers in Atlanta, or in Sydney or in Beijing if they don't like having football."
"We will have had more than two million spectators at football (in 2008), which is a remarkable number."
The Games were preceded by a row between Spanish club Barcelona and FIFA over the release of Messi.
Barcelona initially refused to let the player join the Argentina squad, then relented when FIFA confirmed release of under-23 players was obligatory.
The Spanish club appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, won their case but allowed Messi to take part anyway.
Blatter said including the Olympics in the international soccer calendar would avoid future confusion. "The situation we faced before the tournament will not be repeated," he said.
Messi has helped Argentina to reach the Olympic final. The defending champions meet Nigeria in the gold medal decider on Saturday in the Bird's Nest Stadium.
- Tweet this
- Share this
- Digg this