Even though the summer is the offseason for European club soccer, there is still a packed schedule for fans as well as players. Whether it’s the Copa America Centenario, which will be played in the United States, Euro 2016 in France and the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the concept of an “offseason” in soccer is a myth.
This is why Barcelona would like to make sure their players are not overworked in the actual La Liga offseason so they aren’t negatively affected in the new season. Yes, representing your nation is an honor to many, but you also have to respect reasonable wishes by the team that pays you to play.
For Neymar, he is in a predicament. Neymar and Brazil would like for him to play in both the Copa America and Summer Olympics but Barcelona is only letting him play in the Olympics and not the Copa America. For Neymar to play in both, his “offseason” schedule would be as follows:
– Barcelona La Liga season ends May 15, Copa del Rey Final is May 22 and if Barca makes the UEFA Champions League Final, it’ll end May 28.
– Copa America Centenario is six days after the Champions League Final and goes from June 3-26.
– The Rio Summer Olympics runs from August 5-21.
– The start of the La Liga season is expected to start six days after the Olympics on August 27.
That doesn’t allow for much of a break so Barcelona would rather have Neymar concentrate on the end of this season, where they will possibly win three trophies, have him represent his country while they host the Olympics and if he needs to miss the first couple weeks of next season, so be it.
That seems like a good compromise, though I’m sure American fans heading for the Copa this summer aren’t thrilled. But this decision also relies on a lot of trust between Neymar, Barcelona and the Brazil Federation.
Because the Olympics isn’t a senior tournament for the men (it’s a U-23 tourney with three exemptions per team for older players), club teams are not required to release their players for the Olympics. Club teams are required to release players for the Copa America since it is a senior tournament and on the FIFA calendar. So Brazil can theoretically say they want to play Neymar at the Copa America and while Barcelona won’t like that at all, have no choice but to release him. Whether that does happen is anyone’s guess. I’m guessing it won’t because something like that may cause Barcelona to change their mind and refuse to release Neymar for the Olympics as well as future friendlies (as the club team has authority) and could result in both club and country hurting their relationship with Neymar. With Neymar only playing in the Olympics, it seems like a fair compromise for all and if all sides have cool heads, they should prevail.