ZURICH, JULY 2 -- The ruling body of world soccer today set an age limit of 23 years for players competing on Olympic soccer teams, starting with the 1992 Barcelona Games.
The new rule was adopted without vote at the biennial congress of the International Football Federation, known as FIFA. The organization on Monday is expected to award the 1994 World Cup to the United States for the first time.
The decision automatically canceled all previous conditions for Olympic eligibility, including those amended by the congress in 1986 that barred all European and South American players who had taken part in World Cup tournaments.
The new rule, drawn up by FIFA's Executive Committee, reads: "All players who are not older than 23 in the year in which the Olympic Games are held are eligible to play in the Olympic Football Tournament."
The decision ensures the World Cup will retain its No. 1 position in world soccer. FIFA President Joao Havelange told delegates that it was a fair solution offering Olympic competitors equal chances.
The congress also approved reinstatement of the national federation of Chad, which had been excluded for failing to meet its financial commitments but has since paid up.
And it gave its formal consent to the admission of seven new national federations, raising to 166 the number of FIFA affiliates.