SBD/Issue 222/Olympics

CAS Rules Soccer Clubs Can Keep Players From Competing In Beijing

Clubs Do Not Have To
Release Players For Olympics
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has ruled that three of Europe's top soccer clubs "can prevent their players from competing in the Beijing Olympics," a decision that "could have broad implications for the international sports business," according to Jon Weinbach of The WALL STREET JOURNAL. In its ruling, a three-person CAS panel wrote that FIFA's "omission of the Olympic tournament from its calendar meant that the club's 'had no legal obligation' to release their players" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 8/7). In N.Y., Bell & Rachman report those three clubs -- La Liga's FC Barcelona, Bundesliga's Werder Bremen and Schalke 04 -- "say they are likely to allow their players to compete anyway." The case was the "latest stage in a tug of war between clubs and countries" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/7). The AP's Stephen Wilson reports FIFA President Sepp Blatter today "launched an angry diatribe" at the CAS' decision during an IOC general assembly meeting. Blatter: "I gulped when I heard that decision. It's a rather dramatic situation....If all the national squads will lose players, if clubs force them to return home, we simply will not have an Olympic football tournament here in Beijing. We could do beach soccer or a five-a-side tournament. That would be very sad and the world would not understand it" (AP, 8/7). YAHOO SPORTS' Martin Rogers wrote the ruling by the CAS "threatens to permanently change the face of Olympic soccer." The decision is "likely to open the floodgates for future withdrawals of the world's top talent" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 8/6). NBC's JP Dellacamera said FIFA simply is "going to have to make (the Olympics) part of (its) international calendar” (MSNBC, 8/7).

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