Footballers often dream of winning an Olympic gold medal, but many never get the chance as expectations for Paris 2024 intensify.
Football has been part of the Games for more than a century, but regulations have often prevented the sport’s best from competing.
FIFA rules stipulate that the men’s tournament is made up of teams under the age of 23 – with three exceptions – to avoid competition with the World Cup.
The usual summer slot for the Olympics also falls in the middle of the European pre-season, meaning any involvement affects players returning to their clubs.
Lionel Messi and Neymar are among the stars to have added an Olympic gold medal to their collection of glittering silverware.
However, no one in Britain has claimed glory since 1912, nor will they get the chance to end that barren run this year.
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Reigning Olympic gold medalists Brazil, winners at Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020, will also fail to reach the treble after missing the men’s tournament for the first time since 2004.
Which teams qualified for the Paris Olympics?
While women’s qualification is determined via senior internationals, the men’s edition focuses on youth tournaments.
Footballers born on or after January 1, 2001 – with a maximum of three players over the age of 23 – are eligible to play in Paris.
France, as hosts, qualified automatically while the rest of European sports came from the 2023 UEFA European Under-21 Championship last summer.
England actually won that tournament, but Team GB’s failure to reach an agreement between the original four nations meant they would not participate.
Spain, finalist, instead got the green light, alongside Israel and Ukraine.
Two representatives have been chosen at the 2022 CONCACAF U-20 Championship and three at the 2023 Africa U-23 Cup of Nations.
- UNITED STATES
- Dominican Republic
- New Zealand
Who can still qualify and who is absent?
Argentina’s Under-23 side finished second to Paraguay at the 2024 CONMEBOL Pre-Olympic Tournament, which saw Brazil finish third and miss out on qualification.
Portugal and the Netherlands are also absent, with only four places available for Paris this summer.
Three of them will be decided at the 2024 AFC U-23 Asian Cup, which will be held in Qatar from April to May.
A final qualifying place will go to the winner of the AFC-CAF play-offs which will pit the teams ranked 4th in the Asian and African qualifying tournaments against each other.