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All the focus will be on Liverpool new-boy Robbie Keane as the former Spurs hitman looks set to make his debut against Villarreal tonight. Click here for the latest betting odds!

Barcelona may appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) after Fifa ruled the club must release Lionel Messi for the Olympic Games.

The Spanish side are reluctant to let the 21-year-old Argentine forward go, but Messi is reportedly eager to play in Beijing.

Fifa ruled on Wednesday that clubs must release players aged 23 or under for the Olympics if they are requested.

Barca, along with Bundesliga clubs Schalke and Werder Bremen, had argued that the fixtures are not included on the international calendar.

CAS revealed last week it was to put the appeals of Bremen and Schalke ‘on standby’ until the outcome of the FIFA judgment had been made public.

The body will now meet in the next few days with the Olympic football tournament due to get under way on August 7.

A statement issued by FIFA read: “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.”

The statement added: “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.”

Barcelona want Messi for the first leg of their Champions League third qualifying round tie on 12 August.

But with the Olympic football tournament due to begin on 7 August they would have to make do without the player.

Schalke and Werder Bremen must also release Rafinha and Diego respectively, so they can play for Brazil.

Milan have already refused Brazil permission to call up Kaka for the Olympics, while new signing Ronaldinho and Manchester United’s Anderson have both been included in Brazil’s 18-man Olympic squad.

Real Madrid have asked Brazil to release Robinho from Olympic duty because of a suspected groin injury.

Robinho said: “Unhappily, I can’t go with Brazil to the Games, but it is Real Madrid’s decision and I respect it.”

All the focus will be on Liverpool new-boy Robbie Keane as the former Spurs hitman looks set to make his debut against Villarreal tonight. Click here for the latest betting odds!

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