To the disappointment of soccer fans across the USA, Brazil have blocked Neymar from playing in this summer’s Copa America tournament. Instead the Brazilian star will play for his country in this summer’s Olympics games.
Speaking to a group of Brazilian journalists ahead of Saturday’s Clasico against Real Madrid, club president Josep Bartomeu said Barcelona officially notified the Brazilian Football Federation two weeks ago of their intentions to allow Neymar to play in only one tournament.
Because the Olympics are not an official FIFA senior tournament, clubs are not obligated to release their players. With Brazil having never won the gold medal, the country is prioritizing the Games in Rio de Janeiro in August over June’s Copa America Centanario in the United States.
“It will be impossible to convince us [to release the player twice],” Bartomeu said, according to UOL Esporte. “We are aware of the importance [of the Copa America], but our view is that players need to have some rest after two strong seasons.”
The Blaugrana president added that the club will pose no obstacles for Neymar’s participation in the Olympics.
“We see no problem in Neymar playing at the Olympics,” he said. “The club would be enchanted, and I would take him if I were the Brazilian manager.”
Bartomeu hinted that the club and the Brazilian are near a contract extension. The president said he believes a new agreement will be in place “soon.”
“Barca don’t need to hurry. We won’t put pressure on the player, and instead we will allow him to focus on the competitions,” Bartomeu said.
“I know we won’t have problems because the player himself has already said he wants to stay. Our plan is to have him here til the end of his career.”