2004 soccer final snag

ZURICH (AP) – The finals of the 2004 Olympics soccer tournament should be held at the main Olympic Stadium in Athens, world soccer’s governing body FIFA said yesterday. Spokesman Alain Leiblang said the body wanted the men’s and women’s finals held in the flagship stadium even though there may be problems fitting them around other events. However, FIFA will ask the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to change the time of the men’s final and the date of the women’s final, he added. Athens 2004 organizers said yesterday that the venue and exact time of the soccer finals for men and women has yet to be decided. Greek organizers originally had planned to hold the matches at the Karaiskaki soccer stadium in Piraeus, but said last month the stadium could not be refurbished on time and the finals should instead take place at the main Olympic complex. But Denis Oswald, who heads the IOC committee overseeing the Games, said there were scheduling difficulties and FIFA still had to authorize the switch for the events, due to take place on August 28 and 29. At a meeting of FIFA’s organizing committee yesterday, members decided to ask the IOC to change the kickoff time of the men’s final. It has been scheduled for noon, but soccer officials have expressed concern that it will be too hot at that time of day. However, the change may cause problems with scheduling as other events are due to take place in the stadium on the same day. Leiblang said FIFA also wanted to hold the women’s final on an earlier date because there is a five-day gap between the semifinals and the final. FIFA also expressed concern about delays in the construction of soccer stadiums and agreed to set up a subcommittee to monitor the situation. FIFA confirmed the rules of previous Olympics tournaments stating that only three players in each men’s squad may be over 23.