Your Arms are Too Short to Box with Sepp

For the last decade or two, soccer has been one of only two sports in which the best players in the world do not compete at the Olympics.

The other one, baseball, became the first sport voted out of the Olympics since 1936 when Polo was shown the door.

The reasons why baseball has been eliminated are varied, including limited fan support, but the primary reason is that IOC President Jacques Rogge is pissed off at Major League Baseball's refusal to allow the participation of the best players in the world, and he has MADE IT VERY CLEAR that if MLB refuses to shut down their season to allow players to compete at the Olympics then baseball won't be making a comeback in 2016.

And since there's about as much chance of that happening as there is of me getting elected Mayor of Toronto, baseball won't be making a comeback any time soon.

(This leaves aside the reasons why they also canceled softball, which may include being convinced that US domination made it uninteresting, a perception which was duly shattered, but far too late)

Which brings us, of course, to the other sport where the best players in the world stay home.

Oddly, President Rogge hasn't stomped into a football venue - like he did with baseball - and laid down the "no major leaguers, no games" smack on Sepp Blatter.

Perhaps it's because Blatter is a member of the IOC. Perhaps it's because football is far and away the number one ticket seller in any Olympics (well over two million this year) and, well, Jacques isn't going to risk that kind of money getting into a pissing match that he will most certainly lose.

The recent history of soccer in the Olympics is somewhat complicated, beginning in the 1970's when Communist Bloc countries began sending their full national team to the Olympics, claiming that the players were all members of the Army and thus were really "amateurs" despite the fact that none of them owned a uniform or carried a rifle since they spent 365 days a year playing soccer.

For the 1984 Los Angeles games, the IOC came up with a rule that siad a country could only send players who had never competed in a World Cup final. This allowed countries that didn't make the WC to send their best team while the soccer powers were forced to send their second string.

Nobody cared much for this particular construct and the IOC wanted to declare it an open competition but FIFA - who were just beginning to fully understand just how much money a World Cup could bring in - was steadfastly opposed, so they compromised on the U-23 format for 1988, which was further amended in 1992 to include the "three old guys" addition.

All of which brings us to the situation in 2008 which saw European club teams fighting tooth and nail to keep their players home. The huge sums of money they have to pay the best young talent makes them touchy about loaning them out for a month or so for an event which is not on the FIFA calendar.

Blatter and Rogge were able to talk the teams into A SORT OF TRUCE this year but that's not going to hold for another four years.

Sepp Blatter has been saying that he wants to put the Olympics on the FIFA calendar, making player release mandatory, but THE CLUBS, BACKED BY UEFA aren't likely to stand for it.

In fact, they're floating a proposal to lower the participation U-21's, a suggestion which seems unlikely at best.

Rogge wants full national teams. Blatter will never allow it and would just as soon add the Olympics to the FIFA calendar and continue the tournament as it is. Rummenigge and Platini want to make it a essentially a youth tournament.

It'll be interesting to see how all this plays out. The European clubs have been spoiling for a fight with Blatter on grounds where they can win, and this appears to be a good one to try. Blatter will most likely soft pedal the whole thing hoping that no changes occur.

And Rogge? He'll have to settle for kicking Bud Selig* around. Blatter is way out of his league.

*Yeah, yeah. I'm really not drunk.