The single judge of the Players' Status Committee, Slim Aloulou (Tunisia), decided today, 30 July 2008, that the release of players under the age of 23 for the Men's Olympic Football Tournament Beijing 2008 is mandatory for all clubs. Previously, on 29 July 2008, the FIFA Emergency Committee also took a decision in the same sense.
The decision of the single judge was taken after FIFA had received requests from the German football association on behalf of its affiliate club FC Schalke 04, as well as from SV Werder Bremen, FC Schalke 04 and Spanish club FC Barcelona directly, in connection with the release of their players under the age of 23 for the Men's Olympic Football Tournament. The single judge, while referring to the situation of the players belonging to the clubs in question, deemed that he should address the question of the release of all players under the age of 23 for that competition.
The single judge determined that the international match calendar is not of relevance in establishing whether clubs are obliged to release players for the Men's Olympic Football Tournament.
In this regard, in view of the longstanding and undisputed practice (since 1988, clubs have always accepted the release of under-23 players for the competition), he deemed that recourse to customary law is justified. The FIFA Emergency Committee also mentioned this principle in its decision.
In addition, the single judge took into account the decision of the FIFA Emergency Committee, which recalled that in 1988, the FIFA Congress had determined that all players up to the age of 23 were eligible to play in the Men's Olympic Football Tournament. The FIFA Emergency Committee also stated that the same principle had been confirmed at the FIFA Congress in 2006.
Finally, the single judge stated that taking part in the Olympic Games is a unique opportunity for all athletes of any sporting discipline, and that it would not be justifiable to prevent any player younger than 23 from participating in such an event if his representative team had qualified.
The decision was notified to the parties today, 30 July 2008.