The Brazilian Olympic Committee (COB) has announced its intention to bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics. If successful, Brazil would become the first South American country to host an Olympic Games.
Brazil look strong in bid to further South American Olympic legacy. Brazil is a country that has been successful with its Olympics and Paralympics.
The World Cup is a descendant of the Olympic football competition. It is the offspring of the South American participation to the Olympic football competition, to be more precise.
Uruguay stunned everyone in Paris in 1924 with the brilliance of their football — a new balletic style that wowed the spectators as these unknown men from a little nation on the other side of the Atlantic glided to gold. It was the result of the South American game’s fast development, which was fueled by the establishment of the Copa America in 1916 and held nearly yearly after that. Uruguay showed it wasn’t a fluke four years later in Amsterdam. They won gold once again, with Argentina taking silver in the process.
It was obvious. A worldwide football tournament open to everyone — not just amateurs, like in the Olympics, but also pros — was required. In 1930, Uruguay hosted and won the World Cup, with Argentina finishing second for the second time.
All of these contributes to the Olympic football tournament’s importance in the South American game’s culture. From an early match between Uruguay and Argentina, a goal directly from a corner is referred to as a “Olympic goal.” A lap of honour is called a “Olympic lap” since it was done by Uruguayan players at the Paris Games to honor the audience.
Football is something that South America excels at. Uruguay has never won a gold medal in a sporting event. The silver medal from the 2004 football tournament is Paraguay’s sole medal in sports history.
As a result, the event has both historical and contemporary appeal. It’s an under-23 competition (under-24 this year due to the one-year delay), although teams may field three over-age players. As a result, it acts as a bridge between the under-20s and the senior ranks. It’s a competition aimed at developing players with a championship to be won, and both Brazil and Argentina are about to get started.
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Argentina has won gold at the Olympics twice, in 2004 and 2008. Mexico stunned Brazil in the final four years later in London. Brazil’s trophy cabinet was finally completed during the 2016 Rio Olympics, when Neymar’s penalty secured a shootout victory against Germany and presented the home crowd with their favorite memory from the first Olympics hosted in South America.
Some believed that winning the gold medal would put an end to Brazil’s infatuation with the Olympic Games. This, however, does not appear to be the case. Brazil has chosen a strong team with the entire quota of over-age players for a campaign that starts where the previous one finished, with a match against Germany.
Getting hold of the players is a difficult job that requires careful negotiating. Since 2008, clubs have not been required to release players for the competition. Real Madrid, for example, had no intention of making Rodrygo accessible, and, unusually, even a Brazilian team had refused to participate. Flamengo refused to allow Pedro, a center-forward, join the team, much to his chagrin.
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Even so, there are a lot of well-known names. Richarlison, a striker, and Douglas Luiz, a midfielder, both joined the Olympic team directly from the Copa America. Dani Alves, a former Barcelona right-back, would have participated in the Copa if he hadn’t been injured. Alves, who is now 38 years old, is still hoping to play in the next World Cup. The Olympic competition is an opportunity for him to demonstrate that he is still capable of performing at a high level.
Goalkeeper Santos and Sevilla FC centre-back Diego Carlos, who have been in and around the senior squad in recent months, as well as central midfielders Bruno Guimaraes and Matheus Henrique, who were the team’s heartbeat in the qualification tournament at the start of last year, are the other over-age players. Hertha Berlin centre forward Matheus Cunha, a rangy figure who ended the tournament as top scorer, was the star of the show at the time. The last Copa America underlined the fact that this place on the senior team is still up for grabs, thus his performances will be closely scrutinized.
Argentina, on the other hand, seems to have placed a greater emphasis on player development than on fielding the best possible team. The lack of names from Boca Juniors and River Plate suggests the squad has not had full support from the major clubs, which is not unexpected given that those called up had already missed the first round of the Copa Libertadores, South America’s Champions League.
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Only goalkeeper Jeremias Ledesma, who just returned after a good season with Cadiz in Spain, is above the age limit. Only one member of the squad has played in a senior match: Brighton & Hove Albion playmaker Alexis MacAllister. And he only began once, in a nice manner. Adolfo Gaich, the rambunctious centre-forward, came off the bench for two minutes of friendly action. As a result, the degree of experience in the Brazil team is unparalleled.
However, centre-backs Nehuen Perez and Facundo Medina have great expectations, since Argentina needs more depth in this position at the senior level. Many people will be monitoring Martin Payero, a powerful center midfielder, and Thiago Almada, a clever playmaker.
Fernando Batista, the younger brother of Sergio Batista, the tall, bearded holding midfielder who captained Argentina to the 1986 World Cup victory, is the team’s coach. In 2008, Batista Snr. led the squad to a gold medal. Fernando, on the other hand, has a lot to live up to — and a difficult group to deal with, including Australia, Egypt, and Spain. A repetition of the events of 13 years ago seems improbable. How many of these guys go on to be useful at the senior level will most likely be a better indicator of success.
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