Why Olympic Football Is More Important Than People Think

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Why Olympic Football Is More Important Than People Think
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Olympic football has never been considered as prestigious as the World Cup. However, it actually plays a bigger role than people think.

For example, Romario may be the best football player ever to feature at the Summer Olympics. There are many other contenders, like Bebeto, Tevez and Crespo.

Then of course there were young men called Messi and Ronaldinho...

Brazil have been one of the leading countries in recent years. 

Great Britain have not really taken Olympic football seriously since winning it twice 100 years ago, despite the game as we know it being invented by a group of English gentlemen at Cambridge University in 1863.

Until this year, that is. Not surprising with it being on home territory. That doesn't mean they will win it, however. Might have had a better chance if David Beckham had been in the team...

Uruguay may be having a renaissance, having been one of the world's great footballing nations through the 1930s and also winning the tournament twice.

For many years after the last war, it was dominated by Eastern European countries, but we were never quite sure if the players were amateur.

Eventually, in 1984, the IOC decided to admit professional players but, in one of its dafter decisions, prevented the better, Western nations from entering players who had played in a World Cup. 

Eventually common sense prevailed, and from 1992 on, it was open to any players under 23, together with three "over age" players. That is the modern format.

For some, it will always be a sideshow—especially women's football—but there are at least five reasons why Olympic football is more important than some people think.

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