Messi's Olympic role in doubt after ruling

Barcelona's Argentine superstar Lionel Messi was last night named in his nation's team for their opening Olympic Games match against Ivory Coast today but whether he will actually play, or stay much longer in China, remains in doubt. A landmark court ruling has established there is no legal imperative for his being at the Games.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport yesterday ruled in favour of Barça, Werder Bremen and Schalke being allowed to recall players who have been called up by the countries. Football's world governing body said last week that clubs must release players for the Games. The clubs appealed to CAS, who overturned Fifa's ruling.

Barça had complained because they have a Champions League qualifier to play before the Olympics end and do not want to be without the 21-year-old. Schalke's Brazilian defender Rafinha is also at the Games against his club's will, although they relented last night and said the player could remain in Beijing even though the Bundesliga season starts before the Games end. Werder Bremen took action for the same reason over their Brazlian midfielder, Diego but they too last night relented.

"Fifa is surprised and disappointed by this [CAS] decision, but we respect it," said the Fifa president, 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." It seems Blatter's words were heeded in Germany.

In its ruling, CAS found that Fifa's position of last week was based on custom rather than law, meaning clubs could not be forced to release players.

The CAS ruling means that any Premier League clubs with players at the Games can now recall them, if they want to, but that is thought to be unlikely. The men in question, including Manchester United's Anderson, and three Liverpool players, Javier Mascherano, Lucas and Ryan Babel are all already with their international squads.

Messi's international coach, Sergio Batista, insisted last night that the forward wants to stay in China and play in the Games. Batista named his XI for today's match in Shanghai and Messi, who trained yesterday, was in it.

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

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

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen