European soccer teams will conceivably be at a disadvantage during next year’s Olympic Games due to the fact the European Championships (Euro 2012) will also be taking place next summer. But while there will be four European nations in the Olympic tournament, only two of them, Spain and England will be competing at Euro 2012. And technically, England will be joining Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland in a united Great Britain team in the Olympics. Switzerland and Belarus have also qualified for the London Olympics, but they didn’t make it to Euro 2012.
It’s not likely that too many players will end up competing in both tournaments though because the Olympic soccer event is aimed at 23-year-olds and under, with each team being allowed to field three players of any age. England and Spain could have a few younger players on their rosters at Euro 2012, but they’re likely to take more experienced players with them to Poland and Ukraine, who are co-hosting the event.
But this hasn’t stopped some of the top managers in the English Premier League, such as Arsene Wenger of Arsenal and Sir Alex Ferguson of Manchester United from speaking out about the scheduling conflict. Wenger, who typically whines about anything and everything, said that players shouldn’t be allowed to play in both tournaments. He even went as far as saying that Olympic soccer isn’t a real competition and the Olympics are just track and field events.
However, the English Football Association doesn’t agree with him and said it has no problem with anybody who was selected for both events as long as Great Britain’s Olympic team manager Stuart Pearce can work things out with the England manager Fabio Capello.
There aren’t too many players that could realistically be asked to play for both squads, but most of those who could be selected play for Arsenal. These are Kieran Gibbs, Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott. It’s also possible that teammate Aaron Ramsey, who is Welsh, could suit up for the Great Britain Olympic team.
Wenger says he’s worried about the health of the players, but what he really means is he’s concerned about himself and his position as Arsenal manager. These are finely-tuned, professional athletes that Wenger’s talking about. People who get the best medical and training attention in the world and who are pampered with first-class air travel, hotels, and meals. But he’s worried they might get “tired.”
Euro 2012 takes place between June 8 and July 1 and the Olympic soccer event kicks off on July 15 with the final being held at Wembley Stadium on Aug. 11. The Premier League starts on Aug. 15. But only the two teams that play in the Euro 2012 Final will be in action until July 1. Some of the teams will be going home after just three games. The same goes for the Olympics, you need to reach the final to play up until Aug. 11.
Wenger also feels the players shouldn’t have a say in the matter and the FA should make a rule that bans them from playing in the Olympics and Euros. Ferguson, agreed with him to a point. However, instead of saying players shouldn’t go, he said there’s a good chance England might not fare so well at the two competitions because they play in the toughest league in the world and don’t enjoy a winter break.
Spain, who are the reigning World and European Champions, will be in the same position as England next summer. It’s interesting that we haven’t heard any crying from managers over there about the “predicament” they’re in.