HomeSportsFootballWhy Olympics football isn't big as the FIFA World Cup
ads banner
ads banner

Why Olympics football isn’t big as the FIFA World Cup

Why Olympics football isn’t big as the FIFA World Cup

Why Olympics football isn’t big as the FIFA World Cup?

Football, being the world’s most popular sport, takes center stage in two prestigious global competitions: the Olympics football event and the FIFA World Cup. While both tournaments draw massive audiences and showcase top talents, there exists a notable disparity in how they are perceived within the footballing community. This article delves into the reasons why the Olympics football event is not as highly regarded as the FIFA World Cup, despite its rich history and global significance.

Limited Prestige and Tradition

The FIFA World Cup has a long-standing history and tradition dating back to its inception in 1930. Over the years, the tournament has become a symbol of international football excellence, with national teams vying for the coveted title every four years. The World Cup boasts an established prestige that is ingrained in football culture, making it the pinnacle of international football.

In contrast, the Olympics football event, while historically significant, has struggled to achieve the same level of prestige. The Olympics are primarily associated with track and field events and showcase a diverse array of sports, diluting the football competition’s importance. Consequently, the football event lacks the same level of tradition and historical significance as the FIFA World Cup.

Rules for selecting teams

The rules for selecting squads for the Olympic football event are governed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the sport’s respective international governing body, in this case, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). These rules are put in place to maintain the integrity and fairness of the competition, while also aligning with the unique nature of the Olympics.

Age Restrictions

Why Olympics football isn't big as the FIFA World Cup
Source: Olympics – YouTube

The most significant rule that sets the Olympic football event apart from other international tournaments is the age restrictions on participating players. For men’s football, teams are required to field players who are under the age of 23 as of January 1st of the year of the Olympic Games. However, each team is allowed to include a maximum of three players who are over the age of 23, referred to as “wildcard” players.


To be eligible for the Olympic football event, players must be citizens or nationals of the country they represent. Additionally, they must comply with the age restrictions mentioned earlier. Teams are also permitted to include players who may not be citizens but were born in the country or have parental or ancestral ties.

Wildcard Players

The inclusion of three wildcard players over the age of 23 is a unique aspect of the Olympic football event. This rule allows teams to add experienced players to their squad, providing leadership and skill to complement the young talents. These wildcard players are often experienced professionals who have represented their national teams in major international tournaments, such as the FIFA World Cup or regional championships.

Competition Format

The Olympic football event follows a similar format to other international tournaments. With teams initially placed into groups for a round-robin stage. After the group stage, the top teams progress to knockout rounds, leading to the semi-finals and final. The team that emerges victorious in the final is awarded the Olympic gold medal.

Women’s Football

For women’s football, the age restrictions are slightly different. Teams can field players who are at least 16 years old, with no age limit for the remaining squad members. The inclusion of wildcard players for women’s teams is also allowed, with no age restrictions for these players.

In contrast, the FIFA World Cup allows national teams to field their best players. Creating a truly representative stage for top footballing talents. The presence of footballing superstars in the World Cup elevates its status. And makes it a showcase of the world’s best players competing on the grandest stage.

Overlapping Schedules and Player Priorities

Why Olympics football isn't big as the FIFA World Cup
Source: Premier League

The scheduling of the Olympics football event has been a contentious issue, often overlapping with the domestic league seasons. Consequently, clubs are hesitant to release their top players for international duty during the Olympics. Particularly when it conflicts with preseason preparations or key league matches.

On the other hand, the FIFA World Cup enjoys the status of being a standalone tournament. With the majority of leagues worldwide suspending their schedules to accommodate the competition. This exclusivity ensures the participation of the best players, making the World Cup a footballing extravaganza.

Football-Specific Focus

The FIFA World Cup is solely dedicated to football, creating an unparalleled focus on the sport. Every aspect of the tournament, from marketing to infrastructure, is tailored to celebrate football. This specialization enhances the World Cup’s appeal and generates excitement worldwide.

In contrast, the Olympics are a multi-sport event, and football is one of several sports featured. This diversification dilutes the football competition’s impact, as it competes for attention with numerous other events.

The disparity in prestige between the Olympics football event and the FIFA World Cup can be attributed to a combination of historical significance, team selection, scheduling conflicts, and the football-specific focus of each tournament. While the Olympics hold immense value in the realm of global sports, the FIFA World Cup remains the pinnacle of international football, captivating fans, and showcasing the world’s best players on a grand stage every four years. Despite its historical significance, the Olympics football event continues to struggle. To match the esteemed status of the FIFA World Cup within the footballing community.

Sports Headlines