Setback for South Korea's soccer hopes at Asian Games
German team Bayer Leverkusen refuse to release 22-year-old after denying KFA request
South Korea's hopes of winning gold in the Asian Games soccer tournament suffered a setback after Bayer Leverkusen refused to release livewire forward Son Heung-min for the competition.
South Korea had hoped Leverkusen would release the 22-year-old for the latter stages after the German side denied their initial request for him to participate in the entire tournament.
The Korea Football Association (KFA) said earlier yesterday it had asked Leverkusen to free Son for the last 16, but later announced that request had also been rejected.
"The KFA has decided not to include Son Heung-min for the Asian Games," it said.
"[Bayer] said Son is an important player for the team and cannot release him due to the upcoming Champions League … they cannot release him for a tournament that is not part of Fifa's official calendar."
Club sides are under no obligation to release players to take part in the Asian Games.
Son, 22, left Seoul's Dongbuk High School as a 16-year-old to join Hamburg SV's youth academy and has flourished in the Bundesliga.
He moved to Bayer Leverkusen for €10 million (HK$103.5 million) last year.
Son was one of the few players to emerge with any credit from South Korea's woeful World Cup campaign in Brazil, scoring against Algeria in a 4-2 loss in Porto Alegre.
South Korea won the bronze medal at the last Asian Games in 2010.