Neymar and Kylian Mbappe both need to approval from their club, Paris Saint-Germain, to play in the Tokyo Olympics. That hasn’t come, though there is still time.
PSG wrote a letter to the French Football Federation (FFF) last week indicating Mbappe would not be released to play in the Tokyo Games, according to L’Equipe, which also reported the club doesn’t want Neymar to play for Brazil at the Olympics.
Both stars indicated in the last year-plus that they were willing to play in the Olympics.
But, as in 2016, a problem arises for the world’s best male soccer players. Clubs were not required to allow them to play at the Rio Games, and FIFA has not said that policy will change for Tokyo. FIFA did not immediately respond to a message seeking clarification on Tuesday.
Complicating matters, the European Championship and Copa America are each held in Olympic summers. Clubs can’t stop their players from competing for senior national teams at those events.
Clubs are often opposed to letting stars play both a continental championship and the Olympics in the same offseason, potentially tiring them for the start of the club season.
In 2016, Neymar and his club at the time, Barcelona, made an agreement to let him play in the Rio Olympics if he sat out Copa America Centenario. That Neymar’s home nation was hosting the Olympics made that deal more enticing for the player and the Brazilian federation than it might be for this summer.
Neymar went on to lead Brazil to its first Olympic soccer title, knocking home the clinching penalty kick in the final shootout with Germany.
Mbappe, star of France’s 2018 World Cup champion team, would be particularly valuable to France at the Olympics. At 21 years old, he would not take up one of the three over-age roster spots for players born before Jan. 1, 1997.
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