Thursday, August 07, 2008

Olympic football

The Olympic games in Berlin are about to start, and football is one of the sports where the country's will be competing.
The history of olympic football has always been rather awkward, and still today, the position of olympic history is very strange: something in between a semi-youth tournament supplemented with some star players.
For the first Olympic games, when there was no world cup, the Olympics were considered like the world cup, dominated by Europeans. This was just until unknown Uruguay in 1924 blew all Europeans away, and the groundwork was laid for the first world cup in 1930 in Uruguay. Then, for many years, olympic football became the ground of amateurs, dominated by Eastern Europeans, who had "state amateurs".
In general, it was a bore, and no competition with the World Cup: one can also see this in relation to countries that were the best in the world, were not to be seen in the Olympics: Brazil, England, West Germany, Argentina... (with only possible exception of some Eastern European countries).
Over the last years this has started to change, and the allowing of new players has made the tournament a bit more interesting, although some participating nations still only show off with a secondary youth team.
The great exceptions for these Olympics in Beijing are Brazil and Argentina. Argentina are defending champions from 2004, and Brazil is keen on winning its first gold ever in football. They therefore have shown up with very strong teams, and are by far the favourites to win the whole thing.
Nevertheles, because olympic football is such a bore, one doesn't know what may happen. However, I may add that it is not really worth bothering with games in the first rounds, until the semi-finals, unless you are from one of the countries playing.

Olympics Gold Silver Bronze
1900 Paris Great Britain France Belgium
1904 St. Loius Canada United States
1908 London Great Britain Denmark Netherlands
1912 Stockholm Great Britain Denmark Netherlands
1920 Antwerpen Belgium Spain Netherlands
1924 Paris Uruguay Switzerland Sweden
1928 Amsterdam Uruguay Argentina Italy
1936 Berlin Italy Austria Norway
1948 London Sweden Yugoslavia Denmark
1952 Helsinki Hungary Yugoslavia Sweden
1956 Melbourne USSR Yugoslavia Bulgaria
1960 Rome Yugoslavia Denmark Hungary
1964 Tokyo Hungary Czechoslovakia East Germany
1968 Mexico City Hungary Bulgaria Japan
1972 Munich Poland Hungary USSR
1976 Montreal East Germany Poland USSR
1980 Moscow Czechoslovakia East Germany USSR
1984 Los Angeles France Brazil Yugoslavia
1988 Seoul USSR Brazil West Germany
1992 Barcelona Spain Poland Ghana
1996 Atlanta Nigeria Argentina Brazil
2000 Sydney Cameroun Spain Chile
2004 Athens Argentina Paraguay Italy
2008 Beijing

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