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Defender not available for Olympic football

All News 10:07 June 08, 2016

SEOUL, June 8 (Yonhap) -- Veteran defender Hong Jeong-ho will not be made available by his German club for South Korea at this year's Summer Olympics, an official from the national football federation said Wednesday.

The official said that FC Augsburg recently sent a letter to the Korea Football Association (KFA) that they will not release Hong, 26, for the Rio de Janeiro Games in August. South Korea have been paired with Germany, Fiji and Mexico in Group C at the quadrennial event.

"In late May, Augsburg sent a letter that they will not allow Hong to play at the Rio Games," the KFA official said in condition of anonymity. "Head coach Shin Tae-yong is now trying to come up with an alternative plan."

The men's Olympic football tournament of 16 nations is open to players under the age of 23, but teams can also field up to three players who are over the age limit, known as wild cards. Since Olympic football is not organized by FIFA, professional clubs are not mandated to release players over 23 for the Olympics, and those who want to participate in the quadrennial event need permission from their clubs.

Shin previously said he would use all three wild cards for the Olympics. Tottenham Hotspur forward Son Heung-min and Guangzhou R&F defender Jang Hyun-soo were already tapped as two of the wild card candidates, but the KFA and the clubs have not reached an agreement on when to release these players.

Hong, who joined Augsburg in 2013, has said he wants to compete at his first Olympics in Rio. For the 2012 London Games, where South Korea won the bronze medal, he was dropped from the final squad because of a knee injury.

South Korean male athletes can get an exemption from mandatory military service if they win an Olympic medal, but Hong has already received his exemption after rupturing his posterior cruciate ligament in 2012.

Shin recently said he is frustrated that the wild card situation is not going as well as he'd hoped. After completing a four-nation U-23 football tournament, where South Korea finished second to Denmark, Shin on Monday hinted that he can change his wild card selection plans.

The coach previously said that he would use two of the three wild cards on defenders. The speculation now is that Shin may take two older attackers to Rio.

FC Porto striker Suk Hyun-jun, who turns 25 later this month, has been mentioned as a possible candidate. Suk has never played at the Olympics, and he recently expressed his desire to compete at the Rio Games, saying he will persuade his club to release him.

kdon@yna.co.kr
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