Fifa uphold Olympic ruling
Fifa have announced that all clubs must release players under 23 for the Olympics should they be called upon.
By Chris Burton
Last Updated: 30/07/08 1:10pm
Fifa have announced that all clubs must release players for the Olympics should they be called upon.
A legal advisor sitting as Fifa's Player Status Committee ruled that any player under the age of 23 must be granted permission to join up with their country ahead of the Beijing games when requested to do.
The decision is certain to rile a number of Europe's top clubs who have strongly opposed the ruling in recent weeks.
Barcelona have been the most vocal in their opposition, threatening to take the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) should they be forced to part with the likes of Argentinean star Lionel Messi.
German giants Schalke and Werder Bremen have faced similar problems in regards to Brazil internationals Rafinha and Diego respectively, and may join their Spanish counterparts in appealing against Wednesday's announcement.
However, in the wake of the decision, Messi has made it clear that he fully intends to join up with his international colleagues.
"If Fifa say I should be there then I'll go without waiting for a CAS ruling," he said.
"If CAS say that I have to return then I'll come back, but for the moment I want to be with my country and my team-mates.
"I understand the position of the club because we are playing for so much. But from the start I have said that I want to play for my national team and at no time have there been any problems until now."
Clubs insist that the Olympics were not included on football's international calendar and, as a result, they should not have to make do without a number of their key men for the start of the upcoming season.
Barca and Schalke both have vital UEFA Champions League qualifiers during the period of the Olympic tournament, which runs from 6-21 August, while the Premier League and Ligue 1 campaigns both get underway before the competition comes to a close.