For the 1984 Los Angeles Games, the IOC felt a change was necessary to bring interest back, and decided to admit professional players. FIFA still did not want the Olympics to rival the World Cup, so a compromise was struck that allowed teams from Africa, Asia, Oceania, North America, Central America and the Caribbean to field their strongest professional sides, while only allowing UEFA and CONMEBOL teams to pick players who had not previously played in a World Cup. Many teams therefore fielded very young teams, including France, who won the 1984 Olympic title in between two semi-final appearances at World Cups.
The idea of youth teams found favour at both FIFA and the IOC, and since 1992 players must be under 23 years of age, with three over-23 players allowed per squad. The tournament is now effectively an "Under-23 World Cup", complementing FIFA's own tournaments at Under-20 and Under-17 levels. The new format allows teams from around the world to compete equally, and African and Asian countries have taken particular advantage of this, with Nigeria and Cameroon winning in 1996 and 2000 respectively.
Because of the unusual format, several of the historically strongest footballing countries have unimpressive Olympic records. The Netherlands won bronze in the first three tournaments, but has not reached the finals since 1952. Uruguay won the tournament in their first two attempts, in 1924 and 1928, but those are their only appearances. Argentina won silver twice before the 2004 Athens Games, but its appearance in Athens, in which it won the gold medal, was only their fifth overall. Brazil's two silver medals in the 1980s is the best they have achieved, and the men's team failed to qualify in 1992 and 2004. Hungary won three gold medals, in 1952, 1964 and 1968, but has not returned to the finals since 1996.