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.

Bureau Report

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