Olympics-Soccer-Defender Kim ruled out for Korea as Beijing block release

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Soccer Football - International Friendly - South Korea vs Colombia
FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football – International Friendly – South Korea vs Colombia – Seoul World Cup Stadium, Seoul, South Korea – March 26, 2019 South Korea’s Kim Min-jae, Colombia’s Duvan Zapata and Yerry Mina in action. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

July 17, 2021

(Reuters) – South Korean defender Kim Min-jae has been forced to withdraw from his country’s squad for the men’s Olympic football tournament after Chinese Super League side Beijing Guoan refused to agree to his release.

Kim had been included in coach Kim Hak-bum’s line-up as one of three permitted overage members, but clubs are not obligated to allow players to join their Olympic teams as the tournament is not held during an official FIFA window.

The Korean Football Association announced the 24-year-old central defender has been replaced by Park Ji-soo, who currently plays for South Korean army club Gimcheon Sangmu.

The Koreans, who are one of only two Asian nations to have won a medal in the men’s Olympic tournament, have been drawn in Group B of the 16-team competition alongside New Zealand, Honduras and Romania, with games set to kick off on July 22.

(Reporting by Michael Church in Hong Kong; Editing by Leslie Adler)