decide on Olympic format, fifa told

BERLIN - Joseph Blatter and his football governing body Fifa must finally make up their mind about the future format of the men's Olympic football tournament, Olympic supremo Jacques Rogge says.

BERLIN - Joseph Blatter and his football governing body Fifa must finally make up their mind about the future format of the men's Olympic football tournament, Olympic supremo Jacques Rogge says.

In an interview with the German press agency DPA, Rogge said that Fifa and its president Blatter were changing their views too many times and that time was running out to find a solution for the 2012 London Games and beyond.

"The situation is changing according to the week. So we said very clearly to Fifa: 'Make up your mind, please, gentlemen,'" the International Olympic Committee president said.

But Rogge also said that he did not plan any kind of ultimatum and that the IOC and Fifa aimed to solve the issue by the end of the year.

Rogge was speaking in a Berlin hotel during his visit to the city for IOC meetings and the world athletics championships.

While athletics and many other sports always have all top stars at the Olympics, Fifa has had various formats ever since professionals were allowed to play at the Olympics from 1984.

In 1984 and 1988, players were eligible who weren't fielded in World Cup qualifiers and matches. From 1992 onwards, the tournament is effectively an under-23 World Cup (an event Fifa doesn't have), with three older players allowed on each team. The issue came under review again after Beijing 2008, when European clubs complained that stars like Argentina's Lionel Messi played at the Olympics at the time when the club season had started or was about to start.

Rogge reiterated to DPA that the IOC wanted to keep the current format and did not want a change to an under-21 event or a return to the 1984 and 1988 rule.

Rogge acknowledged the issue was controversial in Fifa, but said Blatter's changing views were not helpful.

"Mr Blatter has spoken once about eliminating the three (older) players. He's spoken a second time about going under-21, and he has spoken a third time about coming back to the rule of Los Angeles 1984 and Seoul 1988, which is basically the same as saying: 'you can only field the b-team'. "

To end any confrontation on that, Fifa would have to add the Olympics to its "combined programme" of events for which clubs must release players. Fifa's dilemma is that the big clubs in Europe and South America are not happy with the current format, while other Fifa confederations such as Africa and Asia want no change. - Sapa-DPA

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