The age limit for the Tokyo Olympics men’s football tournament could be raised so that players who were eligible in 2020 will not miss out following the postponement of the Games until the following year, FIFA said on Friday (April 3).
Olympic football is usually restricted to under-23 teams for the men’s tournament, with three overage players allowed per team. There is no age limit for the women’s tournament.
However, a working group set up by global soccer’s governing body FIFA recommended on Friday that the competition should remain open to players born on or after Jan. 1, 1997, as originally planned, FIFA said in a statement.
This would effectively raise the age limit by one year, as requested by both South Korea and Australia.
Football Federation Australia (FFA) welcomed the move.
“FFA has been vocal in its view that the men’s Olympic football tournament … should shift to an under-24 format since it was confirmed that Tokyo 2020 will be held in 2021,” FFA said in a statement.
“The endorsement by the FIFA -Confederations working group highlights their understanding of the will of participating member associations to keep the Olympic dreams of players born on or after 01.01.1997 alive.”
The working group also recommended the postponement of all international matches due to be played in June – a formality as Euro 2020, the Copa America and the month’s World Cup qualifiers have already been called off due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The recommendations still have to be approved by the Fifa Bureau, a reduced version of its decision-making Council.
“Fifa also reiterates that health must always be the first priority and the main criteria in any decision-making process, especially in these challenging times,” said Fifa.
The group proposed discussions with continental confederations to finalise a revised schedule for 2022 World Cup qualifiers, after matches this month and in June were postponed.
It also recommended the postponement of the under-20 women’s World Cup, due to be co-hosted by Panama and Costa Rica in August and September, and the under-17 women’s World Cup in India, originally scheduled for November.
A decision the on the Futsal World Cup in Lithuania in September should be made by the end of this month, it said.