Messi plays for Argentina after deal
BEIJING (Reuters) - Argentina forward Lionel Messi played -- and scored -- in his country's Olympic opener against Ivory Coast on Thursday after a late deal was struck with his Spanish club Barcelona.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled on Wednesday that Barcelona was not obliged to release him for the tournament -- raising the prospect that he could be called home.
CAS upheld an appeal from the Spanish club after FIFA, soccer's world governing body, said clubs must release eligible players.
Barcelona were keen to have Messi available for their Champions League qualifier against Poland's Wisla Krakow later this month but their sports director Txiki Begiristain told a news conference they had reached a deal over insurance and release from future friendly games.
"We took the decision last night before we flew back from New York to Barcelona after hearing the decision from CAS. Messi will play the Olympics.
"We spoke to the player first of all and with our coach Pep Guardiola.
"We have an agreement that there is an insurance that will cover the whole of the player's salary if he is injured.
"We also have the word of the Argentina Football Association president that he will be released from having to play friendlies for the whole of the season.
"We wanted the player to be happy and he is," added Begiristain.
Messi put Argentina 1-0 up against the African team with a 43rd minute goal.
CAS upheld similar appeals from German clubs Schalke 04 and Werder Bremen regarding the release of Brazilian pair Rafinha and Diego.
The Brazilians will compete in the Games after the clubs decided to let the players stay in Beijing.
(With additional reporting by Mark Elkington; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)
- Tweet this
- Share this
- Digg this