Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 December 2014

No going back for Team GB

Olympics
Olympics

Leaders of the four home nations insist there will be no back-tracking on an agreement signed two years ago stating that the British football team at the London Olympics will have English players only.

The deal was given the green light by both FIFA and the International Olympic Committee, but the British Olympic Association are insisting all British players should be eligible. The Football Association say they are hopeful of working with the BOA to achieve a solution but the other home nations are insisting they will not change their positions.

Patrick Nelson, chief executive of the Irish Football Association, said: "This was all settled many months back and we have not reopened the debate, and indeed we have no plans to do so."

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland fear fielding a mixed British team would threaten their separate status on FIFA. Jonathan Ford, chief executive of the Football Association of Wales, added: "We would love to submit a team - but it should be a Welsh team. There is no change from that position."

A Scottish Football Association spokesperson said: "While we acknowledge the comments from Lord Moynihan with regard to Team GB, we can state our position has not changed since we signed up to the agreement with the other Home Associations in May 2009.

"The Scottish FA, the Football Association of Wales and the Irish FA have already agreed that England would participate under the Team GB banner. There have been no further discussions since then involving the Home Associations and our reasons for not participating are well known."

The English FA are confident the BOA's stance will not be a major stumbling block and that English-only teams will be fielded.

"We will be fielding a men's and women's team in 2012 and working with the BOA to achieve this," said an FA spokesman.

Talks between the organisations are due to be held shortly, with the issue for the BOA being their constitution. BOA chief executive Andy Hunt said: "We remain committed to entering a team in both the women's and men's football events at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

"As in every other sport, athletes will be selected on merit and in that respect the British football selection criteria for 2012 would need to ensure that any British player was eligible to be selected for Team GB as the Olympic Charter forbids any form of discrimination."

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