ZURICH, March 30 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 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.
(Reporting by Brian Homewood; Editing by Mark Meadows)