London 2012: Age limit ruining soccer

Spain is a world power at soccer.  In the past four years leading up to these Olympics, they have captured a FIFA World Cup and two UEFA Euro titles.  At the London games, they fell to Honduras in a shock to the world.  But really it isn’t.  Because Spain sent their U-23 team.  The rule that the IOC set however, is that each team can send three players over 23 and only three.  It’s because of this that soccer here is unwatchable.

Brazil is having it way too easy right now, thanks to their star, Neymar,  straight out of Santos.  Neymar is being chased by many European clubs, including Barcelona, which could do very well with a Neymar/Messi team.  Brazil will now be taking on South Korea, which upset Great Britain in PKs, in the semifinals, and Mexico is locked up with Japan.  Mexico would be a lot better if it could use Manchester United striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez.  Except for Giovani dos Santos, a member of Tottenham, everyone else on the team plays in the Mexican League.  There is no question about who will take the gold and silver, Brazil and Mexico respectively.  If the team that dominated the world from Spain was here in these games, South Korea and Japan would probably not even be in the semis.

The basketball tournament is more popular because there really are no limits.  This team is being compared to the Dream Team of 1992.  Are any of these soccer teams being compared to any other great teams?  Yes, but not in the way that the USA basketball team is.  Only Brazil would have any similar comparisons at all, back in the days of teams with Brazilian legends like Ronaldo or Ronaldinho.

I was hoping that I’d be able to see Argentina get into the Olympics so that we could see Messi and Neymar square off in a rematch of the 2011 FIFA Club World Cup Final where Barcelona laid waste to Santos FC in Japan.  However, because of all the age limits, all of what we expected is disappointing.  USA didn’t qualify for the Olympics on the men’s side because of its loss in qualifying to El Salvador.  We all know what would happen if the real USA team stepped up with players like Bocanegra, Jozy Altidore and Everton star Tim Howard.  El Salvador would be stomped probably.  The fact that USA is a part of CONCACAF makes it way too easy to qualify for most tournaments, but the Olympic limits just brought a bigger burden upon them.

Hopefully, the IOC won’t enforce these rules on the basketball tournament and buzzkill that too.  NBA Commissioner David Stern is one of those people who thinks that the age limit should be enforced too to make it fairer.  Team USA always comes in as the favorite, but the fact is that it’s really not too unfair considering that they had to rally to beat Brazil and Lithuania, in which LeBron James had to step up the most for his team.

The major benefit of enforcing an age limit in the basketball tournament would be to allow more NBA rookies to get experience playing at a high level, which is what I think David Stern is pushing for.  Let’s all hope for a brighter future — where age limits won’t even matter.  Let’s not allow the IOC to ruin every Olympic event.

This article can also be found on — where I work.