Football: Neymar to play Olympics, miss Copa America

Louis van Gaal looks on before the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Crystal Palace.
Louis van Gaal looks on before the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Crystal Palace. PHOTO: AFP

BARCELONA (AFP) - Barcelona's Brazilian star Neymar will miss the Copa America Cetenario in the United States in June, but will be released to represent his country at the Rio Olympics in August, the Catalan giants announced on Wednesday.

"FC Barcelona thanks the Brazilian football federation and their president Marco Polo del Nero, who have accepted the proposal made by the club that Neymar only play in the Olympic Games in Brazil in 2016, which take place between 3-21 of August," the club said in a statement.

"In this way, Neymar is freed from playing in the Copa America which will be played in the United States between 3-26 of June."

Brazil coach Dunga had been hoping to have his captain available for both tournaments, but Barcelona have insisted that Neymar needs to have adequate rest over the summer before the start of the next season.

Fifa regulations demand that clubs release players for tournaments on the international calendar A-list which includes the Copa America, but not the

Olympics which does not figure on the global body's international schedule. Neymar, 24, will be one of the three players over the age of 23 who are allowed to feature in an Olympic football squad.

The Olympics are the only international competition Brazil have failed to win and Neymar was part of the side that lost the gold medal match against Mexico in London four years ago.

Neymar scored for the first time in six games as Barca bounced back from a three-game losing run to smash Deportivo la Coruna 8-0 and remain top of La Liga.

However, a large part of Barca's dip has been blamed on the fatigue suffered by their star South American front three of Neymar, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi due to their commitments in six competitions with Barca this season on top of their national teams.

Fitness permitting, Messi and Suarez will represent Argentina and Uruguay respectively at the Copa America.