June 10 - FIFA will keep an age limit of 23 with three over-age players permitted per team for the London 2012 Olympic football tournament despite the threat of legal challenges from clubs, raising the possibility that Wayne Rooney (pictured) could represent Britain, Lionel Messi Argentina and Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal.

The world governing body voted overwhelming to maintain the status quo even though there had been pressure from clubs to make it an under-21 tournament.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) had warned that any change could affect the number of teams allowed in the football tournament in the future, and FIFA's member associations responded by voting 89 per cent in favour of maintaining the current age limits.

The prospect of some legal challenges ahead of London 2012 appears probable as a result - Barcelona and German sides Werder Bremen and Schalke all won a ruling against FIFA in 2008 after being forced to release their players for the Beijing Games.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne ruled as the Olympics was not on FIFA's international calendar the clubs were not obliged to release the players.

That tournament in Beijing was won by Argentina, whose side included Messi and Sergio Agüero (pictured).

Both will be over 23 by the time of London 2012 but could be included as one of the squad's three over-age players, as could Rooney by Britain and Ronaldo by Portugal.

Denis Oswald, the chairman of the IOC's Coordination commission for London 2012, was in Johannesburg for the FIFA Congress to witness the vote.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who is also a member of the IOC, told Congress delegates that football had a privileged position as the only team sport with 28 national teams taking part in the Olympic competition.

He said after the vote: "I thank delegates for maintaining our strong presence in the Olympic Games."

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