Fifa rules against clubs for Olympics

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The Independent Online

FIFA ruled Wednesday that clubs must release young players for the Olympic football tournament.

A legal advisor sitting as FIFA's Player Status Committee ruled that clubs are obliged to release players aged 23 or under for the Olympics when requested, meaning Barcelona stands to lose forward Lionel Messi to Argentina duty for the duration of the games.

Schalke and Werder Bremen must also release Rafinha and Diego respectively, so they can play for Brazil.

Those clubs had challenged the FIFA rules, saying the Olympics were not included on football's international match calendar. The clubs have the option of taking the matter further, to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Prior to Wednesday's ruling, Barcelona had indicated it would pursue that option if the FIFA ruling went against it.

Barcelona and Schalke both have Champions League qualifiers during the period of the Olympics.

The Olympic tournament will begin one day before the 8 August opening ceremony.