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By ESPN Staff

Bundesliga stands firm against Olympics

FRANKFURT, July 20 (Bundesliga) - Bundesliga clubs are perfectly within their rights to prevent players from linking up with their national teams at the Olympic Games, according to Holger Hieronymus, deputy president of the German Football League.

Schalke, Werder Bremen and Hertha Berlin are all insisting they will not release players for the Games, despite a statement from FIFA earlier this month confirming it is 'mandatory' for clubs to release those aged 23 and under for Olympic duty.

And the German Football League (DFL) says it is supporting the clubs who are preventing their players from leaving for up to four weeks.

'The men's Olympic football tournament does not figure in the international schedule of events and, due to this, there is no requirement to release players (for it),' said Hieronymus.

'Unfortunately, we have not received any practical answer to our many questions to FIFA since May.

'Furthermore, the DFB (German Football Association) shares our view and is supporting our cause while in direct contact with FIFA.'

International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge has demanded clubs release those players who want to travel, claiming players will be suspended from club competition for the duration of the Games if they are not released.

And the DFL now wants to counter that by banning players who travel without their clubs' permission to the Olympics from taking part in the event.

'We are currently investigating whether players who travel to Beijing without their club's authorisation can be suspended for the Olympic Games,' added Hieronymus.

Schalke defender Rafinha insists he will be travelling with the Brazil squad, despite general manager Andreas Muller recently having given his 'final word' the 22-year-old would not be allowed to go.

Rafinha told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper: 'I don't believe I will be flying to a training camp with Schalke on Monday.

'Rather, on Tuesday I will be flying to the Olympics with Brazil.'

Muller criticised Rogge for wading into the row, saying: 'We have made our position very clear and that is that Rafinha is staying.

'We need him for our preparations, for the Bundesliga as well as the Champions League qualifiers.

'It is almost a cheek that a man who is actually responsible for the Olympics should put so much pressure on clubs and that annoys me.'

Schalke's Bundesliga rivals' Werder Bremen are standing equally firm over Diego, 23, whom they do not want to lose for the start of the German season.

'We had to take a stand,' said Bremen general manager Allofs.

'We have a duty to the club and our fans not to release Diego for the Olympics and to put our best team out at the start of the season. We need Diego.'

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