FIFA mulls rules to release players for Olympics

July 10th, 2008 - 3:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, July 10 (IANS) World soccer body FIFA will issue guidelines Thursday to ease the tension between football clubs and countries over the release of players for the Beijing Olympics starting next month. FIFA president Sepp Blatter, also an International Olympic Committee (IOC) member, is preparing a rule on whether footballers must represent their country if selected for the Games, which will be held at the same time when the European season starts.

The world body declined to comment Wednesday but said that Blatter will make an official statement. Blatter has been an IOC member since 1999 and is a strong supporter of the Olympic tournament.

“For any player, the Olympic football tournament represents a highlight of his career and I hope that a solution can be found,” Blatter had said in February.

Current FIFA advice obliges clubs to release under-23 players for the Olympic tournament, but allows them to stop older players taking part. But in the Olympics, each of the 16 competing teams can have three over-age players on its roster.

Brazil star Ronaldinho has also been chosen but the 28-year-old midfielder’s Spanish club FC Barcelona is refusing to let him go to China, where Brazil is due to play the host nation on August 13. Ronaldinho says he will defy the club and play in Beijing.

“I do not see myself being left out of Beijing,” Ronaldinho said Tuesday. “I see myself in the Olympics doing good things and bringing home the gold medal.”

Barcelona said on its Website that the former world player of the year “will have to report for training on Monday, the first session of the 2008-09 season.

“The Olympics do not form part of the official FIFA calendar, and no official decision has ever been made in that respect, so the club is under no obligation to allow its player to travel,” the statement said.

Ronaldinho’s agent and brother, Roberto de Assis, said he was also confident that Ronaldinho would be going to Beijing.

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