Why do Olympic soccer teams need to be U-23?

Why do Olympic soccer teams need to be under the age of 23?

2 Answers

Indeed Olympic football rules are different for men and women tournament and preliminary (qualifying) and final (Olympics) competitions:

Men’s Tournament

  1. All players participating in the preliminary and final competitions of the Tournament shall be born on or after 1 January 1989.
    However, a maximum of three male players who do not meet this age limit may
    also be included in the official list of players for the finals

Women’s Tournament

  1. There are no age restrictions for the players participating in the women’s Tournament.

Please note that the men over 23 can only play at the Olympic finals, not the preliminary or qualifying rounds.

Source: Regulations of the Olympic Football Tournaments

A little bit of history:

For the 1984 Los Angeles Games, the IOC decided to admit professional
players. FIFA still did not want the Olympics to rival the World
Cup, so a compromise was struck that allowed teams from Africa, Asia,
Oceania, and CONCACAF to field their strongest professional sides,
while restricting UEFA and CONMEBOL teams to players who had not
played in a World Cup.
Many countries fielded young teams, including
France, who won the 1984 Olympic title.

Since 1992 male competitors must be under 23 years old, with three over-23 players allowed per squad. The new format allows teams from around the world to compete
equally, and African countries have taken particular advantage of
this, with Nigeria and Cameroon winning in 1996 and 2000 respectively.

The first women’s tournament was at the 1996 Atlanta Games.


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