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FIFA Rules Clubs Must Release U-23s for Olympics
The Guardian, July 30th, 2008 4:15PM

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FIFA has responded to European clubs that claim they don't need to release under-23 players for the Olympic Games because the competition isn't on the international match calendar. Said Slim Aloulou, judge of the players' status committee, the international calendar "is not of relevance in establishing whether clubs are obliged to release players [for the] men's Olympic soccer tournament."

Brazil has been trying to wrest Diego and Rafinha from German clubs Werder Bremen and Schalke 04 while Barcelona has been clutching onto Lionel Messi.

Barcelona and Schalke both have Champions League games during the Olympics. The clubs have indicated they will appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on the matter.

"From the beginning I've said that I want to play for my national team," said Messi, whom Barcelona also wants on its U.S. tour. "If I get there and CAS says I have to come back then I will come back. For the moment I want to be with my national team and my teammates."

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