Posts Tagged ‘Olympics’

Football at the Olympics: Who Cares?

Last Saturday, I found myself at Wembley Stadium watching a highly entertaining game between Mexico and Senegal. Despite it being a six goal thriller and an almost full Wembley, I couldn’t help but ask myself  “Does the Olympics really care about football?”. Over 81,000 spectators at the match would suggest that people do care but then again a lot of people I talked to (Some of them football fans) didn’t even realise that football was in fact an Olympic sport.

Olympic football made its first appearance in 1900 at the games in Paris, a total of 30 years before the World Cup (Although international sides didn’t really make an appearance until 1908) . It has appeared in every Olympics since, apart from the 1932 Los Angeles games where it was dropped to try and promote American Football.

It seems to me that a vast majority of non-football fans almost look down on Football in the Olympics and feel that it should be done away with due to the fact that it features professional footballers who “make millions a year”. The same could be said for Tennis, Basketball and eventually Golf which will feature at the next Olympics. In my opinion that is no reason to want to get rid of the sport which has been in the Olympics for so long.

Then again the hardcore football fan doesn’t seem to care too much for Olympic football either, seeing it as more an inconvenience than anything as they eagerly await the new football season to start. It seems to me that they would rather see their player take part in pre-season with his club than try to get an Olympic medal for his country.

From my experience the people going to the games weren’t the usual crowd who would be attending football matches across Britain. It was definitely a more relaxed family atmosphere and I have to admit it felt strange at first but soon enough I started to really enjoy myself as a neutral. Something I don’t get the pleasure of doing too often but it’s not something I want to get used to either.

A talented Brazilian side.

One country that is really going for gold this Summer is Brazil, who arguably have one of the most talented and star-studded squads. With the likes of Neymar, Pato, Hulk, Thiago Silva and Marcelo in the team it was hard to bet against them. The Brazilians have never won gold at the Olympics and it has now almost became an obsession for them, especially since their rivals Argentina are the current holders. One country that definitely cares about Olympic football.

They will face Mexico in the final on Saturday, a side who has fewer stars than Brazil but is packed with young talented footballers.

Being Irish I obviously couldn’t get emotionally attached to any team at this Summers Olympics but I enjoyed the football on display nonetheless. For me, it is a chance to see the next group of players coming through the ranks for each country and potentially witness a star being born on the world stage.

Leave your opinions in the comments below.

The Ultimate Debate: Pele vs Messi

As you get to a certain level you will always be compared to the best in any sport. In football the greatest of all-time in many people’s eyes is Brazilian legend Pele.  Not much people imagined somebody challenging Pele for the title of ‘greatest of all time’ but then came along Lionel Leo Messi. Are these comparisons premature or justified?

Last night saw Messi score four goals against Espanyol. This brings him to 50 goals in La Liga and 72 in all-competitions this season which is now a new record, having beaten Archie Stark’s 70 goals in one-season for Bethlehem Steel in 1924/25. Nobody can argue that it’s an amazing achievement.

Despite the numerous records he has broken is he on Pele’s level?

Pele claims Messi needs to score 1,000 goals before he can be compared to him. Also making a rather absurd statement  “Now everyone is talking about Messi, he is a star. But for Messi to be the best ever, he must first become better than Neymar.”

Pele claims to have scored 1281 goals but only 760 of these were actually official goals. Messi is now on 276 goals, so it’s achievable considering he is still only 24 years of age.

For some people, Messi has to win a World Cup to prove he is the best of all-time as Pele won three with Brazil. Is this fair though? The current Argentina squad who are ranked 10th in the world aren’t even the best team in South America, never mind the world. Whereas Pele played in arguably the greatest international team of all time. Surrounded by world class players like Garrincha, Gilmar, Carlos Alberto and Jairzinho. Brazil lifted three world cups between 1958 and 1970.

Pele celebrating at the 1970 World Cup.

The only success Messi has on the international stage is a under-20 World Cup back in 2005 and an Olympic gold medal won at the 2008 games in Beijing.

However Messi is playing in arguably the greatest league in the world, the La Liga, as well as the worlds greatest club competition the Champions League. These are two competitions Pele never played in. The Brazilian spent most of his playing days at Santos before a two year stint with star studded New York Cosmos.  This is why some (very few) people doubt Pele’s ability as he never tested himself in Europe.

Another day, another record broken for Lionel Messi.

Lionel Messi now has three Ballon d’Or’s to his name and looks likely to add his fourth which will also be another record broken for the Argentinian. He also has won five La Liga titles, three Champions Leagues and two Club World Cup trophies among others with Barcelona. Although this season wasn’t as successful as previous campaigns for Barcelona it is possibly Messi’s greatest individual season so far.

Is Messi the greatest of all-time?

Will he eventually be or is Pele going to remain the best player to ever grace the pitch?