Mexico wins Gio Dos Santos bid
Mallorca will battle La Liga relegation Saturday vs. Real Valladolid without Giovani Dos Santos, who was en route to Houston, Texas, Thursday to join Mexico's national team, which plays a friendly vs. Nigeria on Friday.
Mallorca had Dos Santos on the pitch Thursday for practice, but coach Gregorio Manzano was unsuccessful in his bid to convince FIFA and the Mexican Football Federation to allow Dos Santos to play in Saturday's decisive match.
After 16 seasons in La Liga, Mallorca is fighting to stay up along with Celta Vigo, Zaragoza and Deportivo La Coruna. Mallorca must win Saturday against Valladolid, and even then, its fate hinges upon losses by the other three relegation zone dwellers.
The club offered to fly Dos Santos home on Sunday in a private jet, according to Spanish media reports, but the Mexican federation would not accept the offer.
"I understand the team's position", said Hector Gonzalez Inarritu, the director of the Mexican national teams. "It is complicated for them. I understand that this is a way to apply pressure. But (Javier) Aquino (Villareal) and (Andres) Guardado (Valencia) are here and they are playing in important matches."
Gonzalez Inarritu said FIFA rules require players to be returned to their home teams four to five days prior to an international qualifier.
"Things like this don't happen in Barcelona or Madrid," said Lorenzo Serra Ferrer, the club's majority owner. "We have to think positive and give all our support to the players who will be on the pitch Saturday."
Dos Santos will join the Mexican team for the June 4-12 CONCACAF Hex qualifiers against Jamaica and Panama.