I don’t think that any football fan takes the Summer Olympics seriously. The men’s tournament has been a solid opportunity for young players to gain some international experience and take a step forward in their development.
That’s why the competition is limited to players under 23. Still, there is a rule that allows each country to include three senior athletes in its squad. We saw Neymar lead Brazil to the gold medals in 2016 and now another superstar could potentially play in Tokyo 2020.
Mohamed Salah was included in Egypt’s provisional squad and the head coach Shawky Garib has left it the player and Liverpool to make a decision.
It’s an interesting situation that begs the question if players like Mo Salah should play in the Olympics and if the additional rule event makes sense. Let’s explore the different perspectives.
The Team’s Perspective
Let’s face it, the goal of each country would be to win a medal at the Olympics and including senior players certainly is an advantage, especially top stars like Mo Salah.
We saw what happened last time around when Neymar was part of the Brazilian squad. The forward was by far the best player in the tournament. Not that Brazil wasn’t strong already, but without him, the outcome could’ve been completely different.
The Player’s Perspective
I believe there’s no dispute that the Olympics are harmful to the top football players in the world. Most of them are located in Europe are expected to rest during the tournament and start their preparations for the new season.
Going to the Olympics would bring even more games to their already overloaded schedule and lead to fatigue and risk of injuries later on.
The Fans’ Perspective
There might be an argument that the fans would like to see more stars at the Olympics, but I’m not sure that’s truly the case. A couple of top players won’t lift the average quality of the tournament that much.
Also, they will bring disparity to the competition, as countries that don’t have stars would have close to zero chance of winning the gold medals.
Furthermore, the fans would certainly want to watch the best players in the world in top shape in their domestic leagues and the UEFA competitions such as the Champions League and the Europa League.
I already explained how participating in the Olympics could damage the upcoming season, so ultimately, the football lovers would suffer in the long run.
I genuinely don’t understand why the rule for senior players in the Olympics football tournament exists. It could only disrupt the balance and everybody loses at the end, with the exception of the country that wins the title. It would be much better if we leave the competition to youngsters who will have their chance to impress in front of the whole world.