Blatter wants under-21 teams in Olympic football tournament


altFEBRUARY 1 - FIFA PRESIDENT Sepp Blatter (pictured) wants to lower the age limit for the Olympic soccer tournament and ban the addition of three over-23 players, he said today.


In an interview published today by the Brazilian newspaper O Globo, Blatter said there is a movement to at least keep under-23 teams in the competition, but that he would rather see only under-21 squads playing.


He told the newspaper: "For me, the logic is to have the best 20-year-olds.


"Those who played in the under-20 World Cup the odd year preceding the Olympic Games."


But his latest plan appears to contradict what he said last year when he claimed he wanted he wanted older players like Steven Gerrard and Kaka to be allowed to take part.


National squads can currently take up to three players over the age of 23 to the Olympics, but clubs can refuse under FIFA rules to let older players take part.


Blatter, in Brazil accompanying FIFA's inspection of the cities bidding to host the 2014 World Cup, said that even if the limit is kept at 23, teams will not be able to use the three overage players anymore.


He said: "The Olympic Games are for the youth.


"We should play them with the younsters.


"Although the limit of 23 years gives us a better quality of football, it is bad to keep adding up to three players above this limit. It's illogical.


"We are going to abolish that."


Blatter said FIFA had planned to ban overage players from the Beijing Games last year, but that it made an exception after a request by International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge.


Last year's Olympics were beset by controversy after clubs refused to release their players to participate in the tournament, citing a conflict with other competitions.


The situation was resolved just days before the competition.


He said soccer's governing body will discuss the issue in March and could reach a final decision at its annual congress in May.

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