Rafinha to defy Schalke over Olympic inclusion

July 20, 2008

GELSENKIRCHEN, July 20 (Bundesliga) - Schalke defender Rafinha insists he will be travelling with the Brazil squad to the Olympics despite the club's unwillingness to release him.

Schalke general manager Andreas Muller recently gave his 'final word' the 22-year-old would not be allowed to travel to Beijing.

But Rafinha is adamant he will be joining up with the Brazil squad next week, whatever his club's stance.

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

FIFA have already released a statement confirming it is 'mandatory' for clubs to release players aged 23 and under for Olympic duty.

And International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge has also 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.

But Muller criticised Rogge for wading into the row, adding: '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.'

Members of the Brazil squad will assemble in Paris on Tuesday before leaving for Singapore and Rafinha claims Diego will be among them.

'I have spoken to Diego on the phone and he will be in Paris on Tuesday,' added Rafinha.