Laporta calls for Messi return
Barca chief refuses to give up on Olympic appeal
Last Updated: July 30, 2008 7:03pm
Messi: Will he figure in Olympics?
Barcelona have accepted defeat in their bid to keep Lionel Messi from travelling to the Olympics, but are confident the Court of Arbitration for Sport will order the Argentine to return to Spain once their case is heard.
Messi confirmed on Wednesday morning that he is to join up with the rest of the Argentina squad ahead of the Beijing Games, after Fifa ruled all clubs are to release any players aged 23 and under that are required by their countries.
A statement issued by Fifa stated the judge of the Players' Status Committee, Slim Aloulou, agreed with their previous ruling that it was 'mandatory' for players to be released for Olympic duty.
Barca have responded by vowing to take their case to the Court of Arbitration, with Laporta livid that he could be without arguably the world's best player for some crucial European games.
"Right now we're at an impasse. Today we'll meet with Messi to make a decision which best suits both parties," Laporta told Barcelona's official website.
"We had planned for Messi to travel to the United States (for a pre-season tour) if the current situation had not arisen. What we can't do is jeopardise the player's interests having only reached half a resolution.
"We understand that it will be very complicated to keep the player and for him to take part in the US tour. Messi will do what the rules require and I understand that these rules will be interpreted by CAS in Barca's favour.
"What's likely now is that he will travel to play with Argentina but if CAS rule in our favour then he will have to return."
Laporta feels aggrieved the Argentinian Football Association (AFA) expect Barcelona to release the player for the Olympics, as it would mean Messi would miss a UEFA Champions League preliminary round game, to be played on either 12th or 13th August.
He said: "The AFA has put a lot of pressure on the player to go (to the Games). It seems unfair and out of place, because we aren't talking about the full national team.
"This is an Olympic tournament, which does not bring together all the players who could be called up, but which is played in the spirit of an amateur competition.
"It makes no sense for the Games to be turned into a new World Cup, because the international calendar is already overloaded as it is."
Werder Bremen are another club to be adversely affected by the Olympics, with playmaker and star man Diego called up by Brazil, while Schalke are fuming over Rafinha's inclusion by the South Americans.
Bermen's director of sport Klaus Allofs has confirmed his club will also be seeking legal advice.
"We will let the ruling be examined by our lawyer and then will decide which course of action to take," he told Sid.