Alex Ferguson standing firm over selection of Manchester United players for Olympics


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The Independent Online

Sir Alex Ferguson has set out his stall over the London 2012 Olympic football tournament and told the FA none of Manchester United's over-age players apart from Ryan Giggs can be selected.

The club have ruled out Team GB coach Stuart Pearce picking Paul Scholes or Jonny Evans for the Olympic tournament at London 2012 as over-23 players, nor Rio Ferdinand and Wayne Rooney in the event that they are not chosen for England's Euro 2012 campaign.

According to a 2008 court ruling, there is no mandate for clubs to release players for the competition as it is not on the international calendar, but United are only taking that position on their over-age players.

Tom Cleverley, Danny Welbeck, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling could be part of the Olympic squad if they are not picked for Euro 2012.

Ferguson, who has also revealed that striker Javier Hernandez will not be part of the Mexico Olympic team at the Games, will not stand in the way of Giggs being part of the Olympic squad as the 38-year-old has never played in a major international tournament.

Giggs has indicated he would accept an invitation - each squad are allowed three over-age players - so long as the Football Association of Wales did not oppose him doing so.

Sources there have confirmed that while they are politically opposed to a GB team they would not prevent Giggs taking part.

An FA spokesman refused to confirm whether they had received the communication from United.

The prospect of a row, or even a legal battle, looks unlikely however especially given United's acceptance that young players not involved in Euro 2012 plus Giggs can be selected.

In 2008, the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled that Barcelona, Werder Bremen and Schalke did not have to release their players for the Beijing Olympics.

After an appeal by FIFA, the clubs allowed their players - including eventual gold medallist Lionel Messi - to appear in the tournament.