World soccer’s governing body FIFA has told clubs they must release any players aged under 23 selected for next month's Beijing Olympics after rejecting a protest by three European teams.
In a statement issued to the clubs and the media on Wednesday, FIFA said Players’ Status Committee member Slim Aloulou had ruled as a single judge that the release of players was mandatory for all clubs.
German Bundesliga sides Werder Bremen and Schalke, and Spain’s Barcelona had argued against the need to release players because the Olympics were not included on FIFA’s international match calendar.
Messi ready for national duty
Barcelona, whose influential forward Lionel Messi has been called up by Argentina, said, “I understand the position of the club because a lot is at stake... But they also have to understand that it is my dream to play for my national team at the Olympics”.