London 2012 Olympics: Football clubs must release players for Games

FIFA rule clubs must allow U23 players to play in London Olympics

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UPDATED:

16:39 GMT, 30 March 2012

Clubs will be obliged to release Under-23 players for the Olympic football tournament in London this summer after a ruling by FIFA.

A hardline statement was issued by football's world governing body on Friday, despite Barcelona having won a court ruling in 2008 against being obliged to release Lionel Messi for the Beijing tournament.

It means FIFA will not leave a decision to clubs; for example for Arsenal to decide whether Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey can play for the British team.

No locks: Aaron Ramsey and other players will not be forced to stay at their clubs

No locks: Aaron Ramsey and other players will not be forced to stay at their clubs

Design: Jack Rodwell shows off the new Team GB kit

Design: Jack Rodwell shows off the new Team GB kit

A FIFA statement read: 'The executive decided that the release of the U-23 players by clubs for Olympic football tournaments will be compulsory.'

The Court of Arbitration of Sport found in favour of Barcelona in 2008 on the grounds that the Olympic tournament is not on the international match calendar, but the club still allowed Messi to play and he went on to win a gold medal.

It is understood that FIFA believe
the ruling went against them because they did not make it clear early
enough that release of the players was compulsory.

The Football Association have assured
clubs that Team GB coach Stuart Pearce will not select any player for
the British men's team if they have been in the England squad for Euro
2012.

Each men's squad is made up of Under-23 players plus three over-age players.