Menu

OLYMPICS

Argentine player in controversial ad left off team

The field hockey player involved in filming a controversial TV ad linking the London Olympics to Argentina's dispute with Britain over the Falkland Islands has been left off the national team for an upcoming tournament.

Team coach Pablo Lombi told Argentine newspaper Clarin on Wednesday that only "sporting reasons" were behind the exclusion of 34-year-old Fernando Zylberberg from the team for a tournament in Malaysia.

The absence makes it unlikely that Zylberberg will be included in the team for the London Olympics.

Zylberberg played for Argentina in the 2000 and 2004 Olympics.

The ad, which first aired last week, shows Zylberberg training for the games by running through the islands' capital of Stanley. In the background is a British pub and other national symbols. The ad says: "To compete on English soil, we train on Argentine soil."

The International Olympic Committee denounced the ad last week, saying the Olympics should "not be a forum" for political issues.

Gerardo Werthein, president of the Argentine Olympic Committee, said in a statement that using the games as a platform for "political gestures" was not acceptable but defended the right to freedom of speech for his athletes.

Argentina President Cristina Fernandez and her government have used the issue of the Falklands — known in Argentina as Las Malvinas — to stir national pride and push Britain to hold talks about the sovereignty of the South Atlantic islands.

Britain has said residents of the islands have overwhelmingly said they want to remain British.