Olympic news shocks home nations
The sale of 1.7million Olympic football tickets will begin on Friday with the row over the British teams at the London 2012 Games intensifying.
The leaders of Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland football have reacted with outrage at an "historic" announcement by the British Olympic Association that players from all home nations will be eligible for selection for Team GB. The announcement by the BOA was made with the knowledge of the Football Association but came as a shock to the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish FAs.
Scottish FA chief executive Stewart Regan said: "I sent (FA general secretary) Alex Horne an email saying we could not support or endorse the Team GB but that we recognised from a legal position we couldn't stand in the way of a player opting to play for Team GB. I asked if we could be kept in the loop so to see an announcement came as a shock to me and all the other associations. We are very surprised and disappointed."
It means young players such as Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey of Wales, Northern Ireland's Jonny Evans and Scotland's Barry Bannan could play in a Great Britain shirt next year. It also affects selection for the women's team.
Of the 2.3million London 2012 tickets that go up for sale on Friday, all but 600,000 are for men's and women's football - but the BOA insist that had "absolutely no bearing" on the timing of the announcement.
The BOA said the FA had consulted the other associations about player selection. A 'long list' of players from across Britain will be drawn up by the managers of the men's and women's teams, and the players each asked to confirm their availability. An announcement of the two squads of 18 players will be made in the summer of 2012.
Horne said they had no choice but to abide by the Olympic Charter and agree to all British players being eligible.
He said: "It is clear that under the Olympic Charter there has to be a non-discriminatory selection process for all players. These are not the FA rules.
"All three associations have notified us in writing that they acknowledge that legally we are entitled to support the BOA in the selection process."
The BOA claimed that all the associations were aware there could be an announcement this month. The British men's team will be made up of under-23s but three over-age players are also allowed. The women's team can be of any age.