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Japan reconsider withdrawal from Copa America

FIFA could help negotiate the release of Japanese players from European clubs for the Copa America in July if the country's national team takes part in the tournament, the head of the country's football body has revealed. Japan Football Association (JFA) President Junji Ogura expects a decision to be made by FIFA after emergency talks in South America, reports Sport Business.

Ogura has been persuaded to rethink Japan's withdrawal from the July 1-24 tournament in Argentina by Julio Grondona, head of the host nation's national football body.

"Grondona knows (under FIFA rules) European clubs do not have to release their players for the Copa," Ogura told the Nikkan Sports newspaper. "He called (FIFA President Sepp) Blatter and Blatter has said he would consider changing the rules."

Ogura added: "Grondona knows that there are many Japanese players who play in Europe and told me CONMEBOL would take responsibility and negotiate their release." Japan's participation in the tournament has been in doubt since the country was struck by a devastating earthquake and tsunami last month.

There are currently 28 Japanese players at European clubs and Ogura is also set to make a fresh plea with J-League teams to co-operate.

"I was very moved (by Grondona's offer)," Ogura added. "I would like to sit down and talk to the J-League about it."

However, J-League chairman Kazumi Ohigashi has criticised the confusion surrounding Japan's participation at the Copa America, stating that the organisation's clubs are against the prospect of further disruption to the domestic season.

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Dave Williams

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