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IOC chief calls on clubs to observe ´Olympic truce´

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 7 Aug 2008

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IOC president Jacques Rogge united with FIFA supremo Sepp Blatter on Thursday and called on football clubs to let their players compete in the Olympic Games.

The 65-year-old Belgian was appealing to the European clubs after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled against FIFA and ordered that three players – two Brazilians and one Argentinian – return to their clubs and not play in the Olympic tournament which gets underway on Thursday.

“We (the IOC) share your (Blatter) feelings,” said Rogge.

“The IOC sets great store by the quality of the the football tournament.

“You understand Mr Blatter that I cannot comment (on the ruling) as we the IOC created CAS.

“Of course I can say I am concerned. This situation will have to end.”

Rogge, who himself is a three-time yachting Olympian, said he believed that a solution could be found.

“I have agreed with Mr Blatter we review it after the Games. I appeal to the clubs concerned (Werder Bremen, Schalke 04 and Barcelona) to leave the players (in China).

“Let them live their dream. Like Ronaldinho (who is not one of the players involved in the controversy) said it is his dream to play in the Games.

“We have to let the players realise their dream just like the basketball players and the tennis players.

“I appeal to the clubs to observe the 'Olympic truce' till after the Games.

“I am sure we can reach an agreement and that FIFA will absorb it into their international calendar. We will fight with Mr Blatter.”

A bemused and clearly furious Blatter had earlier said at the final day of the IOC session that the decision could have serious side effects.

“This could have a snowballing effect,” said the 72-year-old Swiss, who has been in charge of FIFA since 1998 when Joao Havelange retired from the post.

“Other players could now be withdrawn from the tournament.

“We will then simply not have an Olympic tournament. We could of course revert to a beach football or five a side competition,” he added dryly.

Blatter, who has been with FIFA since 1975, said that the clubs could also take a different tack.

“They could say let them play but we want compensation. Is that the Olympic Spirit?

“It is a most uncomfortable position.

“We cannot have players withdrawn from the tournament and see them return home putting in danger the competition before it starts,” said Blatter, who admitted he was stunned when he heard the ruling.

The players concerned are Barcelona's Argentinian tyro Lionel Messi – who looks set to play on Thursday – and Brazil's Diego of Werder Bremen and Schalke's Rafinha.

Both Barcelona and Schalke have Champions League qualifiers during the Olympics, where the football final takes place on August 22, while Bremen want Diego for the start of the Bundesliga on August 15.

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