Neymar will play for Brazil at the 2016 Rio Olympics and miss the Copa America, Barcelona announced on Wednesday.
“FC Barcelona expresses its gratitude to the Brazilian Football Confederation and its president Marco Polo del Nero for accepting the Club’s proposal for Neymar Jr to only play at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro this summer, to be held from August 3 to 21, and not at the Copa America in the United States from June 3 to 26,” the team said in a statement.
Because the Olympics are not on the FIFA calendar, clubs are not required to release their players to participate in Rio. Barcelona would have been required to release Neymar for the Copa America had he been called by Brazil.
The Copa America official website recently removed Neymar from all of its promotions and replaced him with Brazil teammates David Luiz and Kaká. Last week, SI's Grant Wahl reported that Neymar's camp was coming to terms with the reality that he won't play in Copa America.
Brazil has never won a gold medal in soccer, and having Neymar on the team may help end that drought.
He was a member of the 2012 Olympic team that finished with a silver medal after falling to Mexico at Wembley Stadium in London. Neymar, at 24, would be one of Brazil's three over-age players. Brazil has set winning gold before a home crowd at the Maracanã as its main objective for the summer.
- Chris Chavez