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FIFA President Says Some European Football Clubs Going Against Olympic Spirit


International Football (soccer) Federation President Sepp Blatter says some European clubs are going against the Olympic spirit by not releasing players to take part in the Beijing Games.

In a letter to the world governing body's 205 member associations, Blatter said that releasing players under age 23 to play the Olympics has always been mandatory for clubs. He said the same principle would apply this year.

The German clubs Schalke and Werder Bremen are fighting to prevent some of their star players - Rafinha and Diego - from playing for Brazil in the August 8-24 Olympics. The clubs say the players are needed for pre-season practice, the start of the Bundesliga season and for a Champions League qualifier. Both clubs said the players did not have permission to join Brazil's Olympic training camp this week in Paris.

The German Football Association and the European Club Association - which represents both Schalke and Werder Bremen - agree with the clubs. Both clubs have pledged to go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the highest appeals body in sports. The Olympic men's football tournament starts August 7.