Fifa may face Olympic test
ZURICH - Fifa's compulsory rule that players under 23 must be released for the London Olympics faces a possible challenge from European clubs.
Fifa insisted on Monday that it is entitled to compel the release of young players, despite losing a court ruling to Barcelona and two German clubs two days before the start of the 2008 Beijing Games.
Citing its player status regulations, football's world governing body said that "a duty to release players exists on the basis of a special decision by the Fifa executive committee".
Fifa lawyers believe that clause empowered president Sepp Blatter to pass a compulsory Olympic release rule last Friday that affects only under-23 players.
But the 200-member European Club Association said on Monday that it was not consulted by Fifa and would consider its response at a board meeting next week.
"The ECA is very surprised by this decision. The Olympics was not supposed to be in the calendar, and now release is compulsory," the group said.
The disagreement stems from the Olympic tournament being left off Fifa's international match calendar, which tells clubs when to release players for national duty.
In August 2008, the Court of Arbitration for Sport dismissed a "special decision" that Fifa said its emergency committee had made days before the Beijing kickoff. The court upheld an appeal involving Schalke, Werder Bremen and Barcelona, which initially blocked Lionel Messi from representing eventual gold medallists Argentina. The Spanish club won the case but allowed Messi to play.