Werder Bremen have dashed the Olympic hopes of Brazilian playmaker Diego, telling the 23-year-old they will not release him, thus depriving the Games of one of the world’s most exciting young players.
Werder sporting director Klaus Allofs said there was no legal reason for clubs to release their players because, he said, the Olympics are not part of world soccer’s governing body, FIFA.
“So I’m not expecting any reaction from FIFA,” Allofs said.
Just last week FIFA said that even though clubs are not obliged to release overage players they must release any players younger than 23. Diego turned 23 on Feb. 28 and he was nominated for Brazil’s Olympic team on July 8 by coach Dunga.
Diego got his first cap for Brazil in April 2003 as a 19-year-old, so how are Werder getting away with this? Why will Diego be spending August training with his club on Germany’s North Sea island of Nordeney instead of playing for Brazil in China?
Werder released a statement from Diego saying that, “The Olympics are my dream. But Werder don’t want to release me. I’ll respect that. I don’t want to cause any problems.”
But Bild reported on Tuesday that Diego has not given up yet. “I don’t know yet what I’ll do. I’ll wait to see what FIFA decides,” he was quoted as saying.
AC Milan have stopped Kaka from going and Barcelona said Brazilian compatriot Ronaldinho could not attend. Ronaldinho has just moved to Milan from Barca so all eyes are on the Italian club, wondering what they'll decide.
Is it time FIFA made a definitive ruling?