Football's world governing body, FIFA, has ruled that all clubs must release their age 23 or-under players to compete in the Olympic tournament.

In a decision announced Wednesday, Tunisian Slim Aloulou of the Players Status Committee said that releasing players for the Olympics is a long-standing and undisputed practice.

He also noted that taking part in the Olympic Games is a unique opportunity for all athletes and that it would not be justifiable to prevent any player younger than 23 from participating.

German clubs Schalke and Werder Bremen and Barcelona of Spain had balked at releasing their players on the grounds that the Olympics were not included on football's international match calendar.  The clubs still have the option of appealing FIFA's ruling to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.