Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Barca doesn't care for the Olympics

The men's Olympic soccer tournament, comprised mostly of U-23s with a few overage players, kicks off tomorrow (today? Monday? time zones confuse me), and Argentina are the hot favorites. The roster for the Albiceleste includes such notables as Javier Mascherano, Ever Banega, Fernando Gago, Juan Roman Riquelme, Sergio Aguero, and Lionel Messi. Trouble is, Messi is made of glass and Barca doesn't want him to play in the tournament, and the club just won a court case backing its stance.

FIFA and Sepp Blatter had required clubs to release any eligible U-23s for the tournament, but the Court of Arbitration in Sport ruled against their Swiss bureaucratic colleagues. According to the BBC:

The court ruled there was "no specific decision of the Fifa executive committee establishing the obligation for the clubs to release players under 23 for this tournament."

A statement added: "Cas calls upon the goodwill and the good sense of Fifa and the clubs to find a reasonable solution with regard to players who wish to represent their country in the Olympic Games."

Of course, FIFA's windbag in chief was not pleased by the decision.

In response to the decision by Cas, Fifa president Sepp Blatter said: "Fifa is surprised and disappointed by this decision, but we respect it.

"Nevertheless, I appeal to the clubs. Let your players take part in the Olympic Games. It would be an act of solidarity in perfect harmony with the Olympic spirit.

"It would be wonderful for the players, for the fans and for the game itself. I regret that the Cas has not taken the Olympic spirit into consideration."
First of all, I'm shocked that Sepp would actually stand up and defend an event that doesn't line his (or FIFA's) pockets. Blatter has always tried to keep the Olympic tournament small-time so as not to take any glory from the World Cup. For his part, after the ruling Messi told his coach that he wants to stay in Beijing and compete in the tournament. I'm not sure how he is going to do that if Barca won't let him. I imagine its like when I tell my boss I'm planning on going on vacation for three weeks instead of working during a big deadline. For some reason he always makes me cancel my plans. Ogre! Expect Messi transfer rumors to begin leaking out by next week.

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