Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 22 November 2014

Olympic no-go for Northern Ireland footballers

Irish FA President Jim Shaw today reiterated the association’s stance that NO Northern Ireland footballers will be allowed to take part in the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

Olympic no-goifa STAND FIRM ON our stars playING at london 2012IRISH FA President Jim Shaw today reiterated the association’s stance that NO Northern Ireland footballers will be allowed to take part in the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

The thorny issue has cropped up again after the Football Association of Wales confirmed that Tottenham star Gareth Bale (pictured) won’t be given permission to play, even though it is understood he would relish the chance to compete in the prestigious event.

The 2012 hosts, as they always do in the Olympics, will go under the name of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, but the football team may as well be called England.

That’s because Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have decided they don’t want to take any risks where Fifa are concerned in terms of keeping their separate identities.

Although Fifa have stated that all four countries would be allowed players in the team without losing their status, the IFA, SFA and FAW aren’t willing to gamble.

Olympic football teams are generally made up of under-23 players with three overage stars allowed to fill out the squad.

Craig Cathcart, Corry Evans and Josh McQuoid are just some of the Northern Ireland aces who would be eligible, but unless things change they won’t get the chance to go for gold.

“The stance we took when this subject was debated a couple of years ago has not changed,” said Shaw.

“As far as we are concerned no Northern Ireland players will be playing football at the Olympics.”

Shaw added: “Individuals may be interested in playing but we have to consider the Northern Ireland team as whole.”

There is a possibility that Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson will be asked to take charge of the “English” Olympic side.

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