29 Jul 2008

Barcelona prepared to take Messi case to CAS

9:00 am on 29 July 2008

The Barcelona football club will appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport if the world ruling body FIFA tells them to release Argentine forward Lionel Messi for the Olympic Games.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta says they're in no doubt that the rules are on their side, they're not obliged to release the player and the 21-year-old Messi will leave with the rest of the first team for a pre-season promotional tour of the United States tomorrow.

Barcelona want the player for the first leg of their Champions League third qualifying round tie on August 12th.

They added that if the tie looked to be going clearly in their favour then they'd release Messi for the final rounds of the Olympic tournament, of which Argentina are the defending champions.

Last week FIFA president Sepp Blatter said clubs must release their eligible Under-23 players for the Olympic soccer tournament but leading clubs have said they are under no obligation to do so.

FIFA are expected to make an announcement about the issue tonight.