There appears to be some good news for those players born in 1997. Yesterday, per a report by Rob Harris of the Associated Press, the FIFA committee charged with the organization’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has recommended that all players who were eligible to compete in the 2020 Olympics this summer remain eligible for the rescheduled Summer Games, which will take place in 2021.
FIFA working group recommends on Olympics men’s football to keep the eligibility criteria planned for Tokyo Games in 2020 before the postponement to 2021: Players born on or after January 1, 1997 & three additional overage players— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) April 3, 2020
Currently, the Olympic soccer tournament for the men is a U-23 tournament, but teams that qualify can bring up to 3 overage players. Now, the tournament would be a U-24 tournament:
If this happens, the 2020 men’s Olympic football tournament effectivley becomes an U-24 event (exluding the overagers). Huge win for the likes of Justen Glad, Erik Palmer-Brown and Jackson Yueill, who'd retain their age-eligibility in 2021. #USMNT https://t.co/QRgPGhc2ku— Doug McIntyre (@ByDougMcIntyre) April 3, 2020
Players like Miles Robinson, Jonathan Lewis, Jackson Yueill, Brooks Lennon, Jeremy Ebobisse, Auston Trusty, and Sebastian Saucedo, who would have seen their eligibility expire had FIFA not amended the rule, now will be able to compete in Olympic qualifying whenever it resumes as well as the Olympics should the U-23s secure qualification for the United States. It will also mean that whenever soccer resumes, it will be a chance for those players to get more experience with their clubs, which can only help.
CONCACAF is the only confederation that had not completed its Olympic qualifying tournament. Japan, France, Germany, Romania, Spain, New Zealand, Egypt, Ivory Coast, South Africa, Australia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Argentina, and Brazil have all punched their ticket to Tokyo and the Summer Games. CONCACAF’s top 2 finishers in their Olympic Qualifying Championship will complete the Olympic field of 16.
This will be welcome news for U-23 head coach Jason Kreis as well as those players who get to keep their chance to qualify for the Olympics.