KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: Three of the stars beaten by Italy in Tuesday’s Euro 2020 semi-final have been named in Spain’s high-quality squad for the Olympic Games men’s football tournament at the Olympic Games starting in Tokyo later this month.
The trio selected by Olympic manager Luis de la Fuente are erratic Bilbao goalkeeper Unai Simon, central defender Pau Torres from Villarreal and – to the fury of Barcelona – outstanding young midfielder Pedri.
Barcelona have tried to refuse Pedri’s release, , pointing out that the Olympic Games is not a protected tournament in world federation FIFA’s international calendar.
However the Spanish federation remained adamant and hence named Pedri in the official squad registered with FIFA.
Spain open their Games against Egypt in Sapporo on July 22, the day before the official Opening Ceremony.
Should Spain reach the final on August 7, Barçelona would be forced to give the midfielder two more weeks’ holiday under the terms of a national agreement with the players’ union.
This would rule him out of the first weekend of LaLiga action on August 14 and 15 .
A number of English Premier League players have also been called up including three by Brazil, who won Olympic football gold for the first time in Rio de Janeiro five years ago.
Their squad features 12 European-based players including the Richarlison (Everton) plus Arsenal’s Gabriel and Gabriel Martinelli. Spain have also picked the Gunners’ midfielder Dani Ceballos.
Absent despite earlier speculation will be Paris Saint-Germain’s Neymar (Brazil) and Liverpool’s Mo Salah (Egypt).
The 16 squads in the men’s tournament are limited to under-24 footballers plus three over-age players. No selection limits apply to the 12 teams in the women’s competition in which the United States start as odds-on favourites to secure a historic fifth Olympic gold medal.
Participating countries have the option of selecting 22 players for their squad and will be able to choose a maximum of 18 players on matchdays.
Matches are being played in seven venues across Japan with the gold medal finals in the women’s and men’s tournament scheduled for August 6 and 7.