Barcelona to appeal FIFA decision on striker Messi

July 31st, 2008 - 3:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Madrid, July 31 (Xinhua) FC Barcelona said they will appeal to the Tribunal Arbitral of Sport over FIFA’s decision that the club must allow striker Lionel Messi to play for Argentina in the Olympics. Barca want 21-year-old Messi to be available for their two vital Champions League qualifying games in August. But FIFA has decided clubs are obliged to release players who are under 23 years old.

Barca’s official website said the club would present its appeal at the tribunal offices in Lausanne.

Meanwhile club president Joan Laporta insisted that Barca did not want to put Messi into a situation where he was torn between club and country.

“We expect Messi to travel with us to the United States. What we don’t want to do is damage the player’s interests. Messi will do what the rules dictate and I understand that they will be interpreted as favourable to Barca’s posture,” said Laporta from Florence, where Barca will play a friendly against Fiorentina.

Messi showed just how important he is to Barcelona with a hat-trick in the club’s last friendly, a 5-1 win, away to Scottish side Dundee United last Saturday night.

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