German football clubs put price on Olympic dream
Werder Bremen and Schalke 04 have decided to let their Brazilian stars stay at the Beijing Olympics - at a price.
After Bremen's Diego and Schalke's Rafinha defied their clubs by flying to Beijing with Brazil, the German clubs appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to appeal against FIFA's insistence all players aged 23 and under must be released by their clubs for their Olympics.
CAS ruled against FIFA and paved the way for the German clubs to call home their want-away stars if they desired. But with the law on their side, the clubs say they will allow the duo to stay providing Brazil's Football Federation pay the players wages.
They also insist that there will be an additional fee and the players' insurance must be paid.
"We will release Rafinha for the Olympic Games, if the Brazilian Federation clarifies at short notice the basic conditions for his participation," said Schalke manager Andreas Müller.
And Bremen's director of sport Klaus Allofs produced an almost word-for-word copy statement concerning Diego.
The Olympics tournament starts on Thursday, when Brazil are set to face Belgium.
The ruling by CAS was warmly welcomed in Germany. "We are pleased with the decision, because we have worked closely with the clubs in this legal matter," said German Football League spokesman Holger Hieronymus.
"It was always our opinion that under FIFA regulations we were not committed to allowing our players to go freely. FIFA failed to realise the legal implications of this decision early and the preparation of the clubs ahead of the new season has been affected."
Despite the CAS ruling, Argentina coach Sergio Batista said he intended to play Lionel Messi in Thursday's game against Ivory Coast despite Barcelona's insistence that the player return to Spain.