Match schedule receives approval
With just over 18 months to go until the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, the FIFA Organising Committee for the Olympic Football Tournaments, chaired by FIFA vice-president Issa Hayatou, convened today (30 January 2007) at FIFA headquarters in Zurich.
During the meeting, the committee approved the match schedule for the event. The Women’s Olympic Football Tournament will therefore kick off in Tianjin on 6 August and reach its climax at the Workers’ Stadium in Beijing on 21 August. Meanwhile, the men’s competition will start in Shanghai on 7 August and culminate at Beijing’s National Stadium on 23 August 2008. The 58 matches of the men’s and women’s tournaments will be shared among five cities – Beijing (National Stadium and Workers’ Stadium), Qinhuangdao, Shanghai, Shenyang and Tianjin.
In the course of today’s discussions, the committee also agreed to recommend to the confederations of African football (CAF) and South American football (CONMEBOL) that the planned play-off between the runners-up in their respective women’s qualifying competitions take the form of a single match held in China to coincide with the draw for the Olympic Football Tournaments, which is scheduled to take place in April 2008.
Having lost the final of the 2006 Women’s South American Championship to Argentina, the CONMEBOL representative in this match will be Brazil. Meanwhile, the Argentines’ victory guarantees their ticket to Beijing for the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament, which will, in 2008, be contested by twelve teams for the first time ever, rather than ten as has previously been the case.
Qualifying competitions around the globe are set to be completed by March 2008. Having emerged as winners and runners-up respectively in the recent South American U-20 Championship in Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina have already confirmed their slots in the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament.
A delegation from the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG), headed by vice-president of the Chinese Football Association as well as director of sport department and competition manager for football tournaments Zhang Jilong, spoke about the Chinese organisers’ current preparations for the event, and this report was welcomed by the members of the committee. Representatives of BOCOG will return to Zurich on 12 and 13 February to attend a FIFA workshop.
“As chairman of the FIFA Organising Committee for the Olympic Football Tournaments and a member of the IOC’s Coordination Commission for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad, I have had opportunity to visit China on a regular basis and I would like to congratulate BOCOG for all the work completed thus far,” stressed Issa Hayatou.
The 2008 Olympic Football Tournaments will take place just under a year after China has hosted another major FIFA event, the FIFA Women’s World Cup, in September this year.
More information about the Olympic Football Tournaments, especially with regard to the qualifying competition that is currently in progress, can be found on FIFA.com.