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Page last updated at 21:35 GMT, Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Top clubs warn over Euro 2012 and Olympic player double

Argentina's 2008 olympic gold medal-winning team
Argentina won gold in football at the 2008 Olympics

Europe's top football clubs say they are opposed to their players taking part in both the European Championships and the London Olympic Games in 2012.

The Olympics, involving footballers aged under 23, start four weeks after Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine.

The European Club Association fears it is too heavy a workload for players.

"It makes no sense for a player to be involved in two major tournaments in such a short period of time," said ECA vice-president Umberto Gandini.

"As the Olympics are not part of the international calendar we are going to face the same situation we did in 2008 [which saw the Olympic Games in Beijing follow the European Championships in Austria and Switzerland], where there will be requests for the release of players where the clubs have other activities going on.

"We have appealed to Uefa to say that if a player is selected for Euro 2012, he should not be selected for the Olympics. We hope we can discuss this without getting into conflict as we did in 2008."

Manchester United chief executive David Gill, speaking in his role as an ECA board member, said the debate was part of a wider concern that clubs did not want their players taking part in more than one international tournament a year.

There is not a national team manager or a club manager who is happy there is an international friendly match on Wednesday. It's just nonsense

ECA vice-president Umberto Gandini

"A player who is in the squad for Euro 2012 should not then be in the Olympic squad," he told a press conference following the ECA's General Assembly on Tuesday.

"Football is a key part of the Olympics and we are very happy to participate as a league and release players, and we support it, it will happen, but I hope that common sense will prevail."

However, the British Olympic Association do not see a problem.

The BOA told BBC Sport: "Other Olympic sports, such as basketball, tennis and ice hockey, have been extremely successful in creating a balance between the needs and interests of individual athletes, the concerns of professional teams and leagues, and the unparalleled opportunity and benefit of participating in the Olympic Games.

"In those examples, everyone has benefitted: the athletes, their professional teams and leagues, sport governing bodies and fans of sport. We are confident the same will happen in football."

The ECA has also expressed "major concerns" over the way football is run and questioned the way that football world governing body Fifa reaches decisions affecting club football without the involvement of the clubs themselves.

"I wouldn't say we are at war, the clubs are very patient, but we have our limits," said Sandro Rosell, the president of Spanish champions Barcelona and an ECA vice-president.

"We hope Uefa and Fifa will hear what we have to say to them. We have no doubt they will listen to us and consider that what we are asking for is logical and fair."

The ECA is particularly concerned at the addition of eight dates for international fixtures to the match calendar between 2011 and 2014, including this Wednesday's matches, one of which sees England play Denmark.

Gandini, who is also an AC Milan director, said: "There is not a national team manager or a club manager who is happy there is an international friendly match on Wednesday. It's just nonsense.

Fifa president Sepp Blatter
Blatter has angered the ECA with his comments on the 2022 World Cup

"The national managers do not have the players for long enough and the club managers are left with three or four players for training before this weekend's league matches and the restart of the Champions League next week.

"We suddenly realised that Fifa can alter the international calendar when they like. This week's friendlies are the result of Fifa's poor logistical planning."

The association also expressed anger that Fifa president Sepp Blatter made remarks about the 2022 World Cup in Qatar being staged in winter or summer without first talking to them.

Last month Blatter said he expected the World Cup to be in the winter but this week said he now expected it to be in the summer of 2022, although no formal discussion has taken place.

"There has been concern obviously in the way this debate has manifested itself. That is the view of more than 100 clubs and the European leagues. This is a major thing that will have ramifications for club football for three seasons," said Gill.

"For it to happen in that way was somewhat surprising. This is an issue that has not been dealt with correctly."

To combat these issues, the ECA has drawn up a set of "new basic principles" it would like to see implemented.

They include a maximum of one international tournament per player per year to stop exhaustion and periods of at least seven weeks without any international football following major tournaments.



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see also
Pearce lined up to coach Team GB
12 Jan 11 |  Olympics
Denmark 1-2 England
09 Feb 11 |  Football
Fifa to scrap 'home-grown' plans
10 Jun 10 |  Football
Olympic football keeps U-23 rule
05 Dec 09 |  Olympics
Blatter sure of Olympic agreement
30 Sep 09 |  Football
GB 'will enter Olympic football'
10 Mar 09 |  Olympics
Clubs want Fifa scheduling review
08 Sep 10 |  Football


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