CAS rules Barcelona need not release MessiAugust 6th, 2008 - 9:49 pm ICT by IANS
Shanghai, Aug 6 (Xinhua) Barcelona does not need to release Lionel Messi for the 2008 Beijing Olympic soccer tournament, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled Wednesday. Werder Bremen and Schalke also have won their appeal to prevent Diego and Rafinha from going to Beijing.
Messi had been called up to the Argentina squad, and Diego and Rafinha were expected to play for Brazil.
The dispute arose as Barcelona refused to release Messi citing their vital Champions League qualifying games, whereas Argentina needed him to help defend their Olympic gold.
FIFA last week had asked the clubs to release their under-23 players for the Olympics, a ruling which forced Barcelona to release 21-year-old Messi and he joined his Argentinean squad in Shanghai. Messi showed up in all the training sessions in which he paired with Juan Riquelme in the midfield.
Reacting to CAS’ ruling, FIFA stated that it is surprised and disappointed by the decision, but it respects it.
“I neverthless appeal to the clubs to Let their players to take part in the Olympic Games. It would be an act of solidarity in perfect harmony with the Olympic spirit,” FIFA president Joseph Sepp Blatter said in a statement.
Blatter sent messages to the three teams appealing to them to let the players compete.
“The Olympic football tournament is a unique opportunity for a player as it is a high-level competition that gives everyone involved, most notably young players, the chance to gain international experience that will stand them in good stead for the future,” Blatter said.
“I regret that the CAS has not taken the Olympic spirit into consideration.”
The CAS verdict came just one day before the men’s soccer tournament starts. Argentina will play Cote d’Ivoire in Shanghai Thursday. Also in the group are Serbia and Australia.
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Tags: 2008 beijing olympic, cote d ivoire, court of arbitration for sport, international experience, joseph sepp blatter, juan riquelme, level competition, lionel messi, midfield, olympic football tournament, olympic games, olympic gold, olympic soccer, olympic spirit, perfect harmony, president joseph, soccer tournament, stead, werder bremen, xinhua