Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Anger at GB Olympic football bid

A British football team, with no barriers to fielding players from the home nations, will compete at the London 2012 Olympics

Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish football chiefs have angrily hit out at the suggestion they have signed up to being part of a British football team at the London 2012 Olympics.

The British Olympic Association (BOA) on Tuesday announced it had struck an "historic agreement" for Scottish, Welsh, Northern Ireland and English players to be picked for London 2012.

After a six-year battle, the BOA agreement with the Football Association (FA) enables a British team to compete in both men's and women's football tournaments. London 2012 would be the first time a British men's football squad had played at the Olympics in 52 years.

Under the deal, which is in line with the Olympic Charter and "entirely non-discriminatory", any eligible home nation player who was up to competitive standard could be considered for selection, the BOA said in a statement.

But within in minutes a furious Welsh FA president Phil Pritchard said: "We are not part of any agreement. The FA have no authority to speak on our behalf - they do not represent Wales whatsoever and that's a fact. We have not discussed this at any time recently."

Soon after Football Association Wales chief executive Jonathan Ford said: "The Football Association Wales (FAW) can confirm that no agreement has been reached with regards Team GB and the 2012 London Olympics as announced by the BOA today. The FAW cannot support nor formally endorse the approach that has been proposed by the Football Association. This has been made clear in communications with the FA.

"The Football Association of Wales remains committed to supporting the Home Nations playing all representative football under their respective flags as independent members of Fifa and Uefa. This position is supported by the Welsh fans and I am confident, by the majority of all football fans in our respective countries."

A joint statement expressing "disappointment" and "collective opposition to Team GB participation at the 2012 Olympic Games" was then fired off from the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish associations.

The statement, signed by SFA chief executive Stewart Regan, FAW chief executive Jonathan Ford and IFA chief executive Patrick Nelson said: "No discussions took place with any of us, far less historic agreement been reached, prior to the statement from the BOA being released."

The deal over the selection policy is now 100% set and will not change for London 2012 - whether or not any of the disgruntled FAs like it or not. The BOA said all four associations have received a written assurance from Fifa's secretary general that participation in the 2012 Olympic competition would in "no way compromise their autonomy and independence for other Fifa-sanctioned tournaments, nor will it have any impact on their positions of leadership within the Fifa governance structure".

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