Tuesday, 12 July 2016

When do Olympics start and how the football tournament works?

rio 2016
UEFA EURO 2016 might be over, but the summer of football that started with COPA America Centenario is not over yet. The 2016 Rio Olympics start on August 5th, while the men’s football tournament starts a day earlier due to its dense schedule.


Men’s Olympic tournament has always been in the shadow of the FIFA organized competitions, and there are a couple of reasons for this. The most important one certainly lies in the fact that FIFA wants to keep the World Cup as the biggest international event in football. To this end, FIFA and Olympic committee have set up the following rule: teams can pick any 18 players that are 23 years old or under, and only 3 that are over-age.
Of course, each continental association has it’s competition and if we take 2016 as an example the Olympic tournament would’ve been too much for top star players like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. After grueling club seasons, they’ve both been involved in their nation’s respective competitions and another tournament would pose a huge risk to their fitness ahead of the next season that also starts in August.
There is a widespread opinion that these rules diminish the appeal of the tournament, but for a genuine football fan it is a wonderful opportunity to watch brilliant young talents that are about to make their breakthrough on the biggest stage. After all, one of them was Messi whose only glory with Argentina is the 2008 Beijing Olympic gold. Also, it would be wrong to view this as a youth tournament because the U-23 limit means that a lot of players have already became important parts of senior teams at club level.
messi aguero

How do teams qualify for the tournament?

In contrast to the FIFA-organized competitions, the teams don’t go through lengthy qualification process, but rather claim Olympic Berths through international competitions at specific level. In addition to host nation, 15 men’s national teams qualified from six separate continental confederations for RIO Olympics. Here is the breakdown of their qualification tournaments and berths:
Host Country – 1 (Brazil)
South American Youth Championship – 1 (Argentina)
2015 UEFA European Under-21 Championship – 4 (Denmark, Germany, Portugal, Sweden)
2015 Pacific Games – 1 (Fiji)
2015 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Championship – 2 (Honduras, Mexico)
2015 Africa U-23 Cup of Nations 3 (Algeria, Nigeria, South Africa)
2016 AFC U-23 Championship – 3 (Iraq, Japan, South Korea)
2016 CONCACAF–CONMEBOL play-off – 1 (Colombia)

How the tournament works?

The nations will be split up into four groups of 4 countries, from which the top two will qualify for the knockouts. Group A will cross with Group B, and of course Group C with Group D. Group winners from A and C are paired with runners-up from the respective groups and are on one side of the bracket, while the other features Group B and D winners and runners-up. The famous Maracana Stadium will host the final on 20th of August. This is the same venue that hosted the World Cup final between Germany and Argentina in 2014, and it is not too far fetched to see the same teams in the final of the Olympics.
groupsmen
The action starts on August 4th with a match between Iraq and Denmark.

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