Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, has declared that the international governing body could not prevail on the football clubs to allow players join their national teams for the football event of the Olympic Games.
The touching point for African countries and foreign clubs in any Olympic year has remained the availability of the players needed by their countries for the Games.
The foreign-based clubs usually refuse to allow players join their national Olympic team on the premise that the competition is not on the coordinated international calendar of FIFA.
Infantino told reporters in Abuja during his two-day tour of Nigeria that FIFA could only dialogue with the clubs to see reasons with the national associations as it is difficult to incorporate the Olympics into the FIFA international match calendar which is already saturated.
He said he can lobby the clubs to let players who are within the Olympic age bracket of Under-23 to represent their countries.
Nigeria is shorn of the services of some of its bright players including Kelechi Iheanacho, Ahmed Musa, Odion Ighalo and Alex Iwobi at Rio 2016 as their Europe-based clubs opted to retain them as the Olympic is not in the FIFA calendar.
“It is difficult to include the Olympics in the FIFA programme because the international match calendar is already congested and the start of the of the season clashes with the Olympics. This is why clubs insist in having their players, leaving the players with the dilemma of choosing between club and country.
“We are discussing with the clubs to allow the players to serve their nations at the Olympics. In fact for some players once they miss one opportunity they may not get it again to play at that big stage and this is not good,” Infantino said.