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By ESPN Staff

Blatter makes vow over 2012

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has vowed to ensure that clubs will be obliged to release under-23 players for the London 2012 Olympic football tournament.

A court decision on Wednesday handed power to clubs to refuse to release any players for the Games, threatening the plans for London 2012 tournament.

But Blatter insisted he will use FIFA's ruling Congress to have it enshrined in the rules that clubs must release under-23 olds for the Olympics.

Blatter told PA Sport: 'For 2012 we will have the solution. We will establish it in our regulations or even in our statutes.

'The FIFA Congress is sovereign and we will bring this to the next Congress.

'I gulped when I heard the [court's] decision. It's really sad to see such a decision was handed down, putting in danger the entire football tournament.

'Now some clubs are saying they want to be paid for players who take part. The rich clubs - they want more easy money, even for the Olympics.'

Blatter said even the allegations against him in the run-up to the 2002 FIFA presidential election paled into insignificance compared to his feelings about the decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

'It's the most disappointing thing that has happened to me in football since I became FIFA president,' he added.

'It's even worse than the Congress in 2002 because then I could defend myself and was re-elected but here they have taken away all my weapons.

'We were reluctant to go with CAS when it was first set up, but it was the will of the IOC, so we thought we could trust these people.'

Meanwhile, the three players at the centre of the case decided by the Court of Arbitration for Sport will remain at the Beijing Games despite their clubs' victory.

Argentina's Lionel Messi (Barcelona), and Brazilians Diego (Werder Bremen) and Rafinha (Schalke) will take part after the clubs said it was too late in the day to recall them.

IOC president Jacques Rogge told a news conference he would work with Blatter to resolve the situation - and that it could be easily done if the tournament was included as part of the official international calendar.

Rogge said: 'The football tournament is very important and we are very keen on having the best tournament we can.

'The solution is very easy - if FIFA would put the Olympic men's tournament on the combined programme then it's solved because then clubs would be under obligation to release their players.'


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