LONDON, England (AP) — Britain’s Olympic chief Colin Moynihan and FIFA president Joseph ‘Sepp’ Blatter have different viewpoints on whether Gareth Bale should be punished for pulling out of the British Olympic team with an injury and then playing in a preseason match for Tottenham.
The British Olympic Association chairman said yesterday he didn’t agree with FIFA head Blatter’s suggestion that Bale could be banned for playing for the Premier League side during the Olympics.
The speedy 23-year-old Wales winger pulled out of the British Olympic team because of a back injury, but travelled to California for Tottenham’s preseason match against the Los Angeles Galaxy, heading in an 18th-minute goal in a 1-1 draw before being substituted after 73 minutes.
As Britain prepared to play Senegal in their Olympic opener last night, Moynihan said he realised the British public might be upset with Bale withdrawing.
“I understand the response from some football fans who were hoping to see him play as part of Team GB,” Moynihan said. “My view is different. I welcome the fact that he has returned from injury earlier than expected. I don’t agree with Sepp Blatter’s comments about banning him. I think Sepp Blatter needs to get closer to Team GB.”
On Wednesday, Blatter said “if a club does not release a player then this association can come to FIFA and we will then ban this player during the Olympics.
“So far nobody has come to us but it is a possibility we could ban these players if they are not at the disposal of the national team.”
British officials have said they have no intention of filing a complaint.
If Bale was banned, he would miss other matches on Tottenham’s preseason tour, but would be available for the team’s Premier League opener on August 18 at Newcastle.
Yesterday, Tottenham issued a statement saying it found the “accusations” regarding Bale’s fitness “to be wholly unacceptable and unjustified”.
“For the avoidance of any doubt and on a point of absolute clarity and transparency, Gareth sustained an injury as he built up his fitness,” the club said.
“We are dismayed that some have sought to make wrongful assumptions about Gareth’s particular situation and that such positive news surrounding his recovery is being highlighted in this manner.”