Belfast Telegraph

IFA victory in Olympic battle over GB team

By Steven Beacom

The Irish FA appear to have won their fight over a Great Britain football team playing in next year's Rio Olympics after Fifa insisted all FOUR home nations must agree to the idea.

While the English FA are keen for men's and women's teams to participate in Brazil, the IFA are against the plan and have support from the Welsh FA and Scottish FA on the matter.

The powers that be at Windsor Avenue vented their fury last month when they learned that the English FA had put forward a plan to the British Olympic Association for teams to represent Great Britain in 2016.

The IFA were not in favour of GB teams at the 2012 Olympics, but were led to believe they would compete as a one off because the Games were in London, and the host team gained automatic entry.

Then came the English FA's suggestion to have GB teams in Rio too.

IFA Chief Executive Patrick Nelson told the Belfast Telegraph: "A Great Britain Olympic team is not something we would want."

That stance is taken for fear that some Fifa members would demand a GB side, rather than the four individual home nations, to operate in World Cup and European Championship tournaments as well as the Olympics.

Nelson and everyone else at the IFA will be delighted with the news that came out of Fifa's executive committee meeting in Zurich on Thursday.

Fifa vice-president Jim Boyce, previously of course IFA President, said: "Fifa has the final say on whether a football team can be entered for the Olympic Games.

"I was given an absolute categorical reassurance from Fifa that unless full agreement could be reached between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, there would be no GB team participating at next year's Olympics."

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