Wed, August 06, 2008
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IOC feel sad over CAS's decision on release of U-23 players

2008-08-06 14:51:59 GMT2008-08-06 22:51:59 (Beijing Time) Xinhua English

BEIJING, Aug. 6 (Xinhua) -- The International Olympic Committee (IOC) expressed its sadness Wednesday over the decision taken by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) regarding the mandatory release of players under 23 for the Olympic football tournament.

Gilbert Felli, the IOC's Olympic Games executive director, said the CAS decision was "sad for the athletes".

"The athletes are here and dreaming of the Olympic Games. We would love to see the clarification so the young players of the world can participate in the tournament," Felli told a press conference.

Felli's remarks came after the CAS, sport's highest court, ruled that Argentine forward Lionel Messi, Diego and Rafinha can be kept out of the Beijing Olympics by their clubs. Messi plays at Spanish giant FC Barcelona, Diego plays for Werder Bremen and Rafinha for Schalke 04.

Earlier, FIFA president Sepp Blatter said in a statement that "FIFA is surprised and disappointed by this decision, but we respect it".

The men's Olympic tournament is for players 23 and under, with three exceptions for older players.

Blatter said FIFA will meet the IOC after the Beijing Games to discuss the issue of the release of players for Olympic football tournaments in future.

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