Brazil’s biggest sports star remains in question to compete in the Rio Olympics.
Barcelona striker Neymar is not guaranteed to be allowed to play by his club at the first Games in South America, Barcelona manager Luis Enrique said Friday, according to Brazilian outlet Universo Online.
“It’s a special situation for any athlete: the Olympic Games in your [home] country,” Enrique, who won home gold for Spain at Barcelona 1992, said, according to a translation. “We will discuss it, because it’s complicated. There are competitions here and that carry weight. Neymar also has the Copa America [Centenario], and we need to observe the physical aspect. … We are looking for a lighter load that benefits the player himself.”
Men’s soccer clubs are under no obligation to allow their players to compete in Rio in August, FIFA announced in September.
If Barcelona releases Neymar for Rio, he could be selected as one of three players born before Jan. 1, 1993, on Brazil’s Olympic team.
Barcelona may not want Neymar to play in the Olympics because it could crowd any already potentially busy summer for one of its prized players.
Brazil’s national team also is set for Copa America Centenario that runs from June 3-26. Soccer at the Olympics is Aug. 3-20. Barcelona’s domestic season in La Liga usually begins in late August.
Brazil, which has captured five World Cups, took Olympic silver in 1984, 1988 and 2012 and bronze in 1996 and 2008. Brazil hasn’t won Olympic soccer gold.
Neymar, then 20, was part of the 2012 Olympic team that lost to Mexico in the final.