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Clubs aren't obliged to send players to Olympics: FIFA spokesperson following Salah's participation debate
Published in Ahram Online on 15 - 02 - 2020

Liverpool can stop team star Mohamed Salah from participating with Egypt's Olympic team in the Tokyo Olympics next summer, said the FIFA spokesperson.

The participation of the 27-year-old winger in the prestigious tournament was recently the head of talks in Egypt especially after Egyptian U-23 national team coach Shawky Gharib said last week he had settled on choosing Salah among the three over-age players.

Olympics regulations for football tournaments state that each team is allowed to include three over-age players, while the rest of the players must be under 23 years old.

Gharib said the decision is in the hands of Salah, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp said on Friday, noting that nobody has contacted the English Premier League club yet regarding Salah's potential participation in the Olympics.

Klopp said at a press conference ahead of a Premier League game against Norwich City that the discussion over the winger's participation in Egypt's Olympic team is "just in the media."

"We are completely clear about what we want, but we need more information: how will it look, when will the preparation start, all that stuff," Klopp said.

"No decision yet, but we will see," he added.

Salah's agent Ramy Abbas said on Wednesday that no decision has been made over the player's participation.

Amid the current conflict, the FIFA spokesperson made it clear that clubs are not obliged to release over-age players for the games in Tokyo.

"The men's Olympic Football Tournament, as well as all FIFA competitions with age restrictions, are not included in the men's international match calendar 2018-2024, and thus clubs are not under the obligation to release players for the competition," the world football governing body spokesperson told SunSport.

Earlier debate

Last month, Gharib said it was up to Salah whether he participates in the Olympics or not.

He added that he would talk to the former Chelsea and AS Roma player about joining the squad for the Olympics.

"We have to send a preliminary list of 50 players. Salah will be the first on the list as an official call-up," he said.

"Do I want to lose a player in pre-season? Of course not. That's clear," Klopp said.

"But we have to consider different things. I will speak with Mo."

The Olympics are scheduled for late July, when Liverpool will be busy preparing for the new season.

Salah is enjoying another memorable season with Liverpool as they close in on their first Premier League title since 1990. He has netted 18 goals in 33 appearances in all competitions so far this season, including 14 in the elite domestic competition.

Egypt reached the Olympic Games after winning the U23 Nations Cup on home soil in November.

Salah was part of Egypt's squad in their previous Olympic Games participation in 2012, scoring three goals as the team qualified for the quarterfinals, where they lost 3-0 to Japan at the Old Trafford in Manchester.
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