FIFA orders clubs to release players for Olympics
Zurich: Soccer`s governing body FIFA has ordered clubs to release Under-23 players called up by their national teams for the Olympic Games soccer tournament.
The move, approved by FIFA`s executive committee on Friday, is potentially controversial as the competition is not part of the international match calendar.
"The executive decided that the release of under-23 players by the clubs shall be compulsory," FIFA said in a statement.
The 2008 Olympic soccer tournament was marked by a tug-of-war between Barcelona and Argentina over the release of Lionel Messi, which went to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
CAS ruled in Barcelona`s favour but the Catalan club then decided to release him in any case.
The Olympic soccer tournament, which clashes with the European pre-season, is restricted to under-23 players although each team can field upto three overage players.
The soccer tournament at London 2012 kicks off the competitive action at the Olympics on July 25.