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FIFA disappointed by CAS decision on release of players for Beijing
20:34, August 06, 2008

FIFA responded quickly after CAS ruled on Wednesday afternoon that it's not mandatory for clubs to release their U23 players for the Beijing Olympics, saying that FIFA is disappointed by the decision.

"FIFA is surprised and disappointed by the decision, but we respect it," said FIFA president Joseph Sepp Blatter. "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'."

Blatter has already sent a message to FC Barcelona, Schalke 04 and Werder Bremen, appealing to their goodwill not to call back the players Lionel Messi, Rafinha and Diego.

Blatter also criticizes CAS for their decision going against the Olympic spirit.

"I regret that the CAS has not taken the Olympic spirit into consideration."

"FIFA's opinion has not changed. The Olympic football tournaments are a unique opportunity for a player as they are high-level competitions that give everyone involved-most notably young players - the chance to gain international experience that will stand them in good stead for the future. It stands to reason, therefore, that it is not only the player and his national team who can benefit from such an experience, but also his club."

Blatter thanks all those clubs who have release their players for the competition.

Three European clubs Barcelona, Werder Bremen and Schalke won their appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to keep their players, incluing Lionel Messi, Diego and Rafinha out of the Olympic football tournament.

Messi had joined the Argentine squad in Shanghai shortly after FIFA ended the tug-of-war between Barcelona and the Argentine Football Association(AFA) by choosing a single judge to rule that it's compulsory for clubs to release U23 players to Olympics.

Barcelona unhesitatingly appealed for CAS, and the case was registered together with Bremen and Schalke's appeals.

Diego and Rafinha are now training with the Brazilian side in Shenyang. Whether the duo and Messi will stay for the Beijing Games is still changeable.

Source: Xinhua

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