Fifa disappointed with CAS decision

Fifa have described a ruling from the Court of Arbitration for Sport allowing clubs to pull their players out of the Olympics as "disappointing" and urged clubs to allow their players to compete in Beijing.

CAS today ruled in favour of Barcelona, Werder Bremen and Schalke, stating that clubs could not be forced to release their players as the Olympics do not appear on FIFA's calendar.

Fifa had insisted that it was "mandatory" for clubs to release players aged 23 and under for the tournament.

In a statement, Fifa said it would respect the CAS ruling.

"Fifa is surprised and disappointed by this decision, but we respect it," Fifa president Sepp Blatter said.

"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."

CAS found that Fifa's position was based on custom rather than law, meaning clubs could not be forced to release their players.

"The Olympic Football Tournament Beijing 2008 is not included in the Co-ordinated Match Calendar and there is no specific decision of the Fifa Executive Committee establishing the obligation for the clubs to release players under 23 for this tournament," the CAS ruling said.

"The requirements to justify a legal obligation of clubs to release their players for the Football Tournament Beijing 2008 on the basis of customary law are not met."

Blatter added that he had made a direct appeal to the clubs involved to allow the three players at the heart of the dispute - Barca's Argentinian playmaker Lionel Messi, Schalke's Brazilian defender Rafinha, and Werder Bremen's Brazil midfielder Diego - to compete.

The three clubs made the appeal as they do not want the players to miss the start of the season. The Bundesliga season in Germany begins before the conclusion of the Olympics and Schalke will also play a Champions League qualifier.

Barcelona will have also have a Champions League qualifier to play before the Olympics conclude.

While the CAS ruling overturns the decision delivered by a Fifa-appointed judge last week, Blatter insisted that Fifa's position 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," he said.

"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.

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

While the three clubs who made the appeal can be expected to pull their players out, it appears unlikely that any others will be withdrawn as they have travelled with the permission of their clubs with many such as Belgium's Vincent Kompany cutting deals to allow them to play.

Fifa's statement concluded: "Fifa wishes to thank all those clubs who have released their players for the competition and shown great solidarity and Olympic spirit in doing so."

In its statement, CAS stated that it hoped the decision would not cause major disruption to the tournament.

"In view of Fifa's recommendation made to the clubs to release their players as well as of the Olympic spirit, the CAS call upon the good will and 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," the statement said.

The format of the Olympic tournament is now expected to be reviewed before the 2012 Olympics in London.

Fifa said it would meet with the International Olympic Committee after the conclusion of the Beijing Games to clarify the issue for the future.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable