Brazil's hopes of bringing home their first ever Olympic gold in soccer suffered a blow Monday when Werder Bremen refused to release playmaker Diego for August's Games in Beijing.
Brazilian national Diego has to trade Beijing for Bremen
The 23-year-old was said to be very disappointed by the club's decision.
"Obviously I'd like to take part in the Olympics,” Diego said. “It's a dream of mine. But Werder won't release me.”
Diego is one of three players selected by Brazil to join the national team who have not been released by their clubs to play in the Olympic Games. Twenty-eight year-old superstar Ronaldino has been required to keep training with the Spanish Barca and 22-year-old defender Rafinha has not been released by the German team Schalke 04.
FIFA rules stipulate that both Diego and Rafinha should be released as they are both under 23.
“The release of players younger than 23 has always been mandatory for all clubs," FIFA said in a statement last Thursday. "For Beijing 2008 the same principle shall apply."
Bremen , Schalke remain unconcerned
Still, both Bremen and Schalke feel there is little FIFA can do if the players, although both considered as under-23, are not released.
"There is at the moment no legal foundation that says the clubs have to release their players,” said Bremen general manager Klaus Allofs. Allofs said the reason for the refusal is that the Olympics are not part of FIFA's official schedule.
"It's clear that if we don't release Diego, we won't face any sanctions," Allofs said.
Werder Bremen has also refused to allow Serbian Dusko Tosic to go to Beijing for the Olympics tournament, which runs from Aug. 6 to Aug. 23.