updated 7/28/2008 11:46:23 AM ET 2008-07-28T15:46:23

FIFA will announce Wednesday its ruling on whether clubs must release their players for the Olympic football tournament.

The decision on whether to uphold a traditional FIFA rule obliging clubs to release players 23 or under for the games is being handed down by a legal adviser sitting as the world governing body's Players' Status Committee.

The ruling affects FC Barcelona, which stands to lose forward Lionel Messi to Argentina, and Schalke and Werder Bremen, whose players Rafinha and Diego have already joined Brazil.

FIFA said Tuesday that a ruling would be made Wednesday, eight days before the 16-team tournament kicks off.

Schalke and Werder last week filed appeals at the Switzerland-based Court of Arbitration for Sport, world sport's highest appeal body, but were told they must first go through FIFA's own appeal process. If the ruling goes against the clubs, they can then appeal to CAS.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta said that the Spanish club would appeal to CAS should FIFA demand they release Messi.

Both Barcelona and Schalke are scheduled to play Champions League qualifying round matches in mid-August.

The Olympic tournament starts one day before the Aug. 8 opening ceremony and is being played in cities across China.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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