POSTED: January 20th 2011

Football may be on way out of Olympic Games if season switch stands up

Beijing gold: Argentina's Leo Messi in triumph in the Birds Nest in 2008 /
Beijing gold: Argentina's Leo Messi in triumph in the Birds Nest in 2008 /

KEIR RADNEDGE / Sports Features Communications

LONDON/ZURICH, Jan 20: The Olympic Games football tournament in London could be the last if football leaders confirm, later this year, speculation about a revolution over the sport’s traditional scheduling dates.

Reports in Germany and Switzerland suggest that UEFA president Michel Platini, with the support of FIFA leader Sepp Blatter, is working on a revolutionary realignment of football’s international calendar.

According to the German magazine Sport Bild the plan promises to be so contentious that details afre being held back until the summer so as not to compromise springtime re-election prospects for both men.

Platini had led the project which saw the creation of the present calendar after being engaged as a ‘presidential counsellor’ in 1998 after Blatter took over the leadership of FIFA.

A latest version would restrict national team competition – World Cup, European/continental championships – to November (before the winter-break close-season) then February and March.

The April-October segment would be guaranteed as ‘national-team-free.’ This suggests that Platini and Co are prepared to write off the increasing contentious football tournament at the Olympic Games which falls between July/August.

Power game

Most observers of the regular scraps between FIFA and the IOC agree that football does not need the Olympics – and the Olympics do not need football; they can be mutually exclusive powers in world sport.

The proposals for the season switch suggest 2015 as the earliest possible date for implementation. This is three years after London 2012 but significantly ahead of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Two weeks ago Blatter upset officials in both host Qatar and among European leagues and clubs when he suggested that a date switch to allow for a winter World Cup in the Gulf in 2022 was likely. The International Olympic Committee, despite emollient words from president Jacques Rogge, was also curious about how a clash of dates could be avoided between a winter World Cup and the 2022 Winter Games.

A short statement today from FIFA insists that no plans exist to switch the 2022 World Cup finals to a winter date. It read: “Any potential move of the 2022 FIFA World Cup from a summer to a winter period would have to be initiated by the football association of Qatar and would have to be presented to the FIFA Executive Committee. At this stage there are no concrete plans to change the international match calendar."

The use of the word “concrete” has fuelled speculation since the apparent new proposals concerning the international calendar have not been presented for formal consideration.

Keywords · IOC · FIFA · London 2012 · Olympic Games · Olympic football · Platini · Blatter · Rogge · international calendar

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