With the Beijing Olympics just around the corner, international coaches are busy fine-tuning strategies, formations and squad lists. One consequence of this is that in recent days varying reports have emerged referring to the possibility of players not being released by their respective clubs for international duty. FIFA.com would therefore like clarify the situation and restate the obligations as applicable to teams, associations and players.
In its official statement, FIFA states that "the principle is that each team can field players until the age of 23. In addition, the teams that qualify for the final tournament have the right to include in their squad three players over the age of 23". That said, the rights and obligations of the clubs with respect to these two categories are different. "According to the FIFA regulations, the release of players who are over 23 is not compulsory. However, the FIFA Executive Committee, during its meeting of 14 March, made an appeal to the solidarity of the clubs in order to release these players."
By contrast, there is no doubt about the release of players under the age of 23, which is obligatory, as indicated in the aforementioned official statement: "The release of players younger than 23 for the Olympic Football Tournament has been accepted by all clubs since 1992. For Beijing 2008, the same principle shall apply."
FIFA.com will announce the official squad lists of the all the competing nations on 31 July.