Fifa tell clubs to allow under 23s to Olympics

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Clubs are obliged to release players younger than 23 for the Beijing Olympics, Fifa confirmed today.

German clubs Werder Bremen and Schalke have questioned whether their players Diego and Rafinha, aged 23 and 22 respectively, had to be released to the Brazil Olympic squad.

FIFA today released a statement saying: "In view of the importance of the Olympic Tournament for the entire sporting movement in general and football in particular, as well as on the basis of customary law, the release of players younger than 23 has always been mandatory for all clubs. For Beijing 2008 the same principle shall apply.

"This is not a new position and the regulations have not changed."

Manchester United will lose their 20-year-old Brazilian Anderson for the start of the season as he is also in the squad, but the club did not challenge the ruling.

Clubs are not obligated to release players over the age of 23 - of which three are allowed per nation under Olympics rules - for the tournament.

Liverpool's 24-year-old midfielder Javier Mascherano is in the squad of current Olympic champions Argentina.

FIFA added: "Regarding the three players who are over 23 and selected by their member associations, the release of these players is not compulsory according to the Fifa regulations.

"However, the Fifa executive committee, during its meeting of 14 March, made an appeal to the solidarity of the clubs in order to release these players."

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