Don’t pack your #10 jersey for Brazil just yet: Lionel Messi will not be playing in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympic Games. Take a moment, collect yourselves. Ok. After leading Argentina to the World Cup Finals in July 2014, FC Barcelona to the Champions League and La Liga titles in the summer of 2015,
and breaking the speed of sound and winning his fifth Ballon d’Or last month, Leo will be taking a nice little nap this July.
Coach Gerardo Martino said he worried about the superhuman losing his powers, saying, “The reality at Barcelona shows the season will be long. I want to win very much but not at any cost, not by throwing the players on to the pitch for them to die there.” Funerals are definitely not the ideal outcome, good point Gerardo.
Skipping the Olympics is not uncommon for football stars, as their clubs want them in peak condition for the season starting just weeks later at the end of August. In the battle of club vs. country, clubs often win as the Olympics are meant to celebrate amateur athletes and according to International Olympic Committee rules, only three players over the age of 23 can be selected for the squad. Many of the Spain’s titans, then world champions, were missing from the 2012 team because they were like, K BYE going to the Greek Islands with Shakira (I’m looking at YOU Piqué).
Traditionally, the Olympics have been ahem, not the most popular event for football enthusiasts in a calendar packed with league championships, regional championships, epic brawls and world cups. By the time the Olympic Games roll around, football fanatics are ready to collapse in front of the television to the dulcet tones of rhythmic gymnastics.
And apparently, so is our boy. This will mark the second time that Leo has missed the Games. After leading Argentina to gold in Beijing in 2008, we failed to qualify for the Olympics in 2012 in a series of qualifiers that most would prefer to forget. But perhaps even without him, we can repeat Beijing’s glory.
Meanwhile back in Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo 7 ™ is once again calling his agent, demanding to be released from the Olympics so he can go to Ibiza too.