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|August 30, 2000||
Australia refuse to release Viduka
England's Leeds United will play most of next month's Champions League matches without striker Mark Viduka after Australian soccer officials declined to release him from Olympic commitments.
Leeds had hoped the 24-year-old Australian striker, who signed from Scottish club Celtic during the summer, would be released Olympic duty in Sydney after FIFA requested that Olympic soccer teams select players aged only under 23.
The decision means Viduka could miss up to seven Leeds games whilst in Sydney, the club's official website said.
The team already have a long list of injured first team players, including Australian forward Harry Kewell.
"It's very, very frustrating. The Olympics is going to be a big thing in Australia but I'm extremely disappointed that I won't be able to play in those Champions League games," the website quoted Viduka as saying.
David Woolley, Soccer Australia chief executive, said any move to restrict older players from the national team would be contrary to Olympic regulations.
"We are just complying with FIFA rules and will continue to do so," he said.
Leeds play Barcelona on September 13, AC Milan on September 19 and Besiktas on September 26 in the first group stage of the Champions League.
Mail Sports Editor
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