BY DAVID OWEN.
An increase in the size of the women’s Olympic football tournament may be more likely now that FIFA President Gianni Infantino has joined the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
Infantino was elected at the 135th IOC Session. The Swiss national was elected by 63 votes to 13, with three abstentions – an appreciable level of opposition as these votes go.
Questioned afterwards about women’s Olympic football by insidethegames, Infantino acknowledged that making the women’s tournament the same size as the men’s was “perhaps” a discussion worth having.
“We must give women the role or place they deserve,” he said.
Any such move would also be in tune with the gender-equity drive pursued by the IOC in recent years, though perhaps not with attempts to rein in the overall number of athletes competing at the Summer Olympics every four years.
Currently, the women’s competition consists of only 12 teams against 16 for the men. The men’s tournament is mainly for under-23s, with three overage players permitted per squad.
This will remain the configuration for this year’s Summer Games in Tokyo. It was reported last month that Infantino had suggested the Women’s World Cup might be turned into a biennial rather than quadrennial competition.
The 49-year-old’s election to sport’s most prestigious club comes almost four years after he took over as global head of the world’s biggest sport with the body engulfed in scandal.
Ex-FIFA President Sepp Blatter ceased to be an IOC member in 2015, while Issa Hayatou, the Cameroonian who was briefly acting President, left at the end of 2016.
FIFA Council member Lydia Nsekera from Burundi has remained in situ throughout, having entered the IOC in 2009.