BEIJING (Reuters) - World soccer’s governing body said on Thursday the decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport to allow the return of a handful of players to their clubs was “very disappointing” and could ruin the Games’ soccer tournament.
“I’m very disappointed, I cannot understand this ruling. Just now when the Olympics Games has started because now we are in a very difficult situation,” FIFA chief Sepp Blatter told Reuters TV before an International Olympic Committee session.
“If this ruling is applied to all the players here then we have no Olympic tournament.”
CAS on Wednesday upheld an appeal from the clubs after FIFA said they were obliged to release eligible players for the tournament.
The case was taken to CAS by Barcelona, Schalke and Werder Bremen for their players Lionel Messi, Rafinha and Diego.
“This is absolutely nonsense. I cannot understand how CAS, which is an emanation of the Olympic movement, made such a ruling,” said Blatter.
Blatter, visibly upset by the decision, later told the IOC session that the situation was complicated as the clubs could allow their players to compete in return of a financial compensation.
“The clubs could say ‘let’s let them play and we could be financially compensated’. Is that the Olympic spirit?” asked Blatter, an IOC member himself.
“We can’t let them go. We can’t see them return home, a day before Games start, putting in danger an entire tournament.”
IOC President Jacques Rogge said he shared his fellow member’s feeling and pleaded with the clubs to let the players stay. He also pledged to resolve the situation for future Games after the August 8-24 Beijing Olympics.
“In the meantime we have to manage it in the short term. We appeal to clubs not to withdraw player and allow players and put into reality their dreams,” Rogge said.
“We ask them, plead with them, to respect the Olympic dream. I am quite sure we can find right solutions in the long term.”
The first matches in the men’s soccer tournament were scheduled for later on Thursday.
Additional reporting by Vincent Fribault; Editing by Alex Richardson