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Olympics 101: Why is there an age limit on soccer players?

Olympics 101: Why is there an age limit on soccer players?

Soccer stands as one of the most popular events featured in the Olympics. Aside from the FIFA World Cup, the Summer Olympics is the next big international stage of the sport. However, one of the key points in Olympics soccer is its age limit on men’s teams.

The Olympic soccer age limit brings about important factors in the competitive scene of the Olympics. Unlike other popular and highly-watched sports such as athletics or swimming, Olympic soccer imposes an age limit on men's teams.

Why is this? Let’s explore the reasons behind the Olympic soccer age restriction.

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What is the age limit for Olympic soccer?

The age limit for an athlete to play Olympic soccer is 23 years old. This limit was first introduced in 1992 at the Barcelona Olympics. This specific age was chosen because European teams qualified for the Olympics based on their performance in the European Under 21 championship.

Considering that this event occurred every two years before the Olympics, setting the age limit at 23 allows players who were 21 to still partake in the event. The schedule for the U21 European championship has since changed and now takes place a year before the Olympics.

Competition with the FIFA World Cup and other international tournaments

To maintain the prestige of the FIFA World Cup as the pinnacle of international soccer, an age limit is enforced on the Olympic men’s soccer teams. The concern is that the Olympics would essentially be a copy of the FIFA World Cup without this age limit. Beyond this, both sports events are held every four years and feature different teams from across the globe.

Another popular football tournament held every four years is the UEFA European Championship (Euro), which might also compete with the Olympics soccer events. Like the FIFA World Cup and Olympic soccer, it showcases top-quality football matches and attracts a global audience. What sets it apart, however, is that it is exclusive to European countries instead.

Levels the playing field

Another factor that has played into the imposed age limit is the desire to make the competition fairer for all teams. With the age limit, other national teams who may not have the same resources or footballing history as known powerhouses have a better chance to win.

Considers the soccer players' busy schedule

Many soccer players have demanding schedules. Aside from playing in their domestic leagues, some players are also in the lineup for their national teams. It is also likely that the same players also play in other tournaments during breaks. The busy schedule of soccer players is considered a significant factor in implementing the Olympic age limit soccer.

Expecting all the best players to participate in the Olympic soccer tournament would be overwhelming for the teams. Despite being in peak physical condition, players also need rest and time off. Therefore, the age limit allows players over 23 to have a break and prevents excessive strain on their physical and mental well-being. This also ensures they can perform at their best in other competitions.

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Are there any exceptions to the 23-year-old age limit?

The only exception to the 23-year-old limit in Olympic soccer is that each team can field three over-age players. These players can be older than 23 and bring higher skill and experience to the teams.

This exception allows some of the best players from each nation, like Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, to play in the Olympics. However, these over-age players cannot partake in any of the qualifying rounds for the tournament. These rounds are reserved for under-21 players.

Does women’s soccer at the Olympics also have an age limit?

There is no age limit for women’s soccer events in the Olympics, so players of all ages can participate. Women’s soccer is considered to be more equally competitive worldwide, so there is no need to balance out the competition or address concerns of rival competitions.

The 2024 Olympics soccer event

The 2024 soccer Olympics is fast approaching and will start in July. Both men’s and women’s soccer tournaments will be held at seven stadiums in different cities in France. The finals will take place at the Parc des Princes in Paris. The teams that have qualified for the event are:

Men’s soccer

Women’s soccer



Dominican Republic













New Zealand





New Zealand

United States





United States


Bet on Olympic soccer games at Sportsbet.io

If you want to bet on the soccer Olympics, some of the teams likely to win men’s soccer Gold are Spain, Argentina, and France. These teams have done well in past competitions and are likely to bring the heat into the Olympics.

For Olympic women’s soccer, the favourites are Brazil, France, and the United States. Note that these are just predictions. Remember to take the time to research the teams’ current forms and pay attention to the betting odds.

Sportsbet.io is the ultimate bookmaker for your Olympic soccer bets. We give you access to premium betting features, competitive odds, and top-tier services. Some exclusive features you can enjoy at Sportsbet.io include:

  • Mobile app: Stay updated on the 2024 Olympics action with Sportsbet.io's mobile app. Accessible on Android and iOS, you can easily place bets and enjoy the excitement of betting wherever you are.

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Aside from these features, there are also tons of promotions where you can boost your betting experience. Make sure not to miss out and enjoy the 2024 Olympics with Sportsbet.io!

Bet on live Olympic events as it happens here


The information provided by the blog above on Sportsbet.io is for general information purposes only. All information on the Site is provided in good faith, however we make no representation, warranty, or guarantee of any kind, express or implied, regarding the accuracy, adequacy, validity, reliability, or completeness of any information or betting tips on the Site.

Raphael Latorre20 May 2024

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