En route to Beijing
The Organising Committee for the Olympic Football Tournaments, chaired by FIFA vice-president and IOC member Issa Hayatou, convened today (Tuesday, 14 February) for the first time since the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
The members of the committee hailed the decision taken by the International Olympic Committee at the end of last year to increase from 10 to 12 the number of teams taking part in the Women's Olympic Football Tournament in Beijing in 2008.
Although it stills requires ratification from the FIFA Executive Committee, the following allocation of places among the confederations in the final competition was approved by the organising committee:
- Men's tournament: AFC (4, including the host nation), CAF (3), CONCACAF (2), CONMEBOL (2), OFC (1), UEFA (4)
- Women's tournament: AFC (3, including the host nation), CAF (1.5 - one direct qualifier and one team to play-off against representatives of CONMEBOL), CONCACAF (2), CONMEBOL (1.5 - one direct qualifier and one team to play-off against representatives of CAF), OFC (1), UEFA (3)
A joint delegation from the sports department of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG) and the Chinese Football Association presented a detailed report on the progress of preparations for the event.
Debates during the meeting also touched on whether to retain rules in force since the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta allowing the inclusion of three players aged over 23 in each team in the men's tournament. This topic will now feature on the agenda for the next meeting of the FIFA Executive Committee.
The committee also welcomed three new members during today's meeting: Lydia Nksekera (president of the Burundi football association), Tina Theune-Meyer (former coach of the German women's national team) and Zaiqing Yu (former IOC Executive Board member, now China's deputy minister for sport).