Friday, August 8, 2008

Football at the Olympics

Everybody comes back or nobody. It is quite simple. I couldn’t understand why the rule is for three [players] and not for 23, for example. Am I angry? No. Frustrated? Yes.

- Arsene Wenger, with regards to... I'll elaborate

You see, the Court of Arbitration for Sports ruled that Barcelona, Werder Bremen and Schalke didn't have to release their under-23 players for the Olympics. The CAS decided that it was custom to release players, not a law. Wenger's upset because these clubs had the cajones to challenge their obligations, and Arsenal didn't.

It doesn't seem to matter. Lionel Messi, Diego and Rafinha played yesterday despite the ruling. If I was fabulously talented and South American, I'd do the same. Stuff the club. I'd want to take part in the Olympic Games. My stomach turns at the huge propaganda showpiece it's become for the Chinese government. But still, it's the Olympic Games.

Despite all the corruption and the commercialisation and that nagging feeling that all those Australian Institute of Sport dollars would be better spent building homeless shelters, there's a mystique attached to the Olympic Games that is untarnishable. The five interwoven rings is still the best symbol of our shared humanity and the prospect of a united world. Yeah, it's all lovey-dovey, touchy-feely stuff. But if you've got to base your humanistic ideals on something, it's not a bad place to start.

Still, I've decided that I'm not going to watch the Olyroos play anymore. I watched the first 20 minutes of the Australia-Serbia match, and it was hideous. Yes, it was 33 degress and smoggy, but the least they could've done was to break out in the jog every once in a while.

Higher, faster, stronger it wasn't.

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