FIFA President’s Appeals To Clubs
In an appeal for sporting solidarity, on 7 February FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter urged Europe’s top clubs to consider favourably any requests to release players older than 23 years from the 16 associations that have 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, the FIFA President took the opportunity to broach this topic. While pointing out that the competition, to be played in Beijing and four other Chinese cities from 6 to 23 August 2008, was 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,” he commented. “It is not compulsory to release players over the age of 23 for this competition. This is a matter between clubs and the associations. But players regard the Olympic Football Tournament as a highlight of their career and I hope that a solution can be found.” Club representatives noted in particular that the timing of the event – outside 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.