In an appeal for sporting solidarity, Europe's top clubs were yesterday asked by FIFA President Joseph Blatter to consider favourably any requests for the release of overage players (older than 23 years) from the 16 associations qualified for the Olympic Football Tournament Beijing 2008.
At a meeting with club representatives from all over the world as part of the FIFA Club Task Force (cf. separate media release), the FIFA President took the opportunity to broach this topic. While pointing out that this competition, to be played in Beijing and four other Chinese cities from 6 to 23 August 2008, is not specifically mentioned in the release provisions of the FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players, Blatter appealed to the clubs to consider a flexible approach. "We are aware of our regulations. The release of overage players for this competition is not compulsory. This will be a matter between clubs and associations. Still, for any player, the Olympic Football Tournament represents a highlight of his career and I hope that a solution can be found."
Club representatives noted in particular that the timing of the event, which is outside of the international calendar, posed a problem for European clubs as at that time domestic leagues will be due to start again and qualification for the continental club competitions will be underway.