Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger launched a withering attack on football’s presence at next summer’s Olympics, claiming it is “not a real tournament”.
The Olympic football tournament is a brilliant opportunity for young players to get worldwide exposure in a major tournament. Some of these players, not yet established enough to regularly play for their national teams, will get the chance to perform in front of 80,000 supporters at Wembley.
The future stars of tomorrow will develop before our eyes. For the women’s game also the Olympics is another brilliant chance to play in a high profile tournament. There are not nearly as many opportunities to make an impact on the global stage in women’s football as there are for men’s so the players are understandably excited about the prospect of football in the Games at London 2012.
Scotland and Arsenal’s Kim Little said: “I don’t see why anyone would want to stop a player from playing at a massive tournament like the Olympics, it’s the biggest sporting event ever. If I get the opportunity I’ll grab it with both hands – I would definitely play.” There have only been four women’s football tournaments to date and it undoubtedly does a lot to get young women playing football.
A final benefit of Olympic football is that it brings the Games out to the rest of the host nation. In Beijing there were six venues in five different cities, while at London there will be football staged in six different cities. Football does more in reaching out to the rest of the country and increasing the goodwill towards the Olympics, than any number of torch relays will.