Reuters Soccer Blog

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Messi takes a step closer to Beijing


Messi scoresBarcelona’s Argentine forward Lionel Messi took a step closer to Beijing on Wednesday¬†when FIFA ruled that clubs are obliged to release players aged 23 or under to play at the Olympics.

Barcelona¬†and Bundesliga clubs Werder Bremen and Schalke, who want to keep Diego and Rafinha out of the Games, will probably fight on in the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) but for now FIFA has made the right decision, one that’s for the good of the game as well as the Games.

Seeing Bremen and Schalke threaten legal action against their young Brazilian internationals earlier this month was a sad sight not only for the Olympics but for soccer.

Diego and Rafinha decided (quite nobly, if you ask me) to put their country and the Olympics temporarily ahead of their club careers and defied the orders of their employers — going AWOL in the process and putting themselves in line for large fines and other disciplinary problems on their return.