7 Aug 2008

Messi at centre of club vs country row

12:42 pm on 7 August 2008

Argentina are insisting their superstar Lionel Messi will make a controversial Olympic football debut tonight, igniting a major international row with his Spanish club Barcelona.

Barca want the 21-year-old to play in a Champions League tie and along with two German clubs won a Court of Arbitration for Sport ruling that players can be kept out of the Games by their clubs.

However the German Bundesliga clubs Werder Bremen and Schalke backed down and their Brazil players Diego and Rafinha will feature for their national team.

But the coach of the defending Olympic champions Argentina, Sergio Batista, says Messi will start in tonight's game against Ivory Coast in Shanghai.

Batista says he's sure the youngster will remain with Argentina for the rest of the competition.