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Irish FA in blame game as World Cup ladies miss Rio

By Nevin Farrell

Northern Ireland's football chiefs are causing growing disquiet among England's sporting bosses keen to enter a ladies' Team GB squad at the Olympics next year.

The inspirational English ladies' team have been hailed as sporting heroes who are inspiring a generation of young girls to get into football after finishing third in the World Cup.

But it appears the Lionesses will be unable to play for Team GB at the Olympics next year.

Following internal wrangling between the football associations of the home nations, the International Olympic Committee was informed in March that there would be no men's or women's team representing the UK in Rio next summer.

That's because the Northern Irish, Scottish and Welsh football associations believe that if they agreed to a united Team GB at the Olympics, it would threaten their status as individual nations with the world governing body Fifa - meaning they could lose their right to play in the World Cup.

Yet the success of the English women has triggered fresh calls for the players to be able to represent Britain.

Lord Moynihan, the former sports minister who was chairman of the British Olympic Association at the time of the 2012 Olympics in London, said not sending a team to Rio was a "major backwards step".

Kelly Simmons, director of women's football at the FA, has described the failure to gain backing from the other home nations as a "devastating blow" to the women's game.

But Irish football Association Chief Executive Patrick Nelson told the Belfast Telegraph in March: "A Great Britain Olympic team is not something we would want. Our position hasn't changed."

Belfast Telegraph

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