POSTED: December 20th 2008

Team GB given Games all-clear

Sir Alex Ferguson: wanted as manager /
Sir Alex Ferguson: wanted as manager /

KEIR RADNEDGE / Sports Features Communications

LONDON/TOKYO: Great Britain has been given a formal all-clear by world football authority FIFA to field a joint home nations team at the 2012 London Olympic Games.

The issue of the British team has been a major bone of contention among the historically independent football associations of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The British Olympic Association, as soon as London was awarded the summer Games, expressed a wish to present a team - something which had been unworkable for many years because of the oppisition of Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish officials.

They believed such unity would ultimately jeopardise their independent competitive and voting status within world football.

England has always been in favour of a team for the competition which is expected to be strictly an  under-23 event in 2012 with no further utilisation of the inclusion in squads of three over-age players - a facility available to coaches since the Atlanta Games of 1996.

English domination

In any event, the team (and playing squad) would be dominated by English players.

FIFA's executive committee, meeting in Tokyo on the eve of the Club World Cup final between England's Manchester United and Ecuador's LDU Quito, has confirmed that it will accept a joint team for the 2012 Games only.

Lord Sebastian Coe, leader of the London organising effort, has long hoped that Sir Alex Ferguson, current manager of Manchester United, could be persuaded to manage the British team at the Games.

The independent status of the four British home nations is owed to the historic fact of the birth of the modern, codified game of association football in the British Isles in the mid-19th century. In 1947, when they re-entered FIFA after a 25-year absence, that independent status was enshrined in the FIFA statutes.

That clause was examined and endorsed by the organisation's centenary review of its statutes in 2004.

Keywords · English football · London 2012 · Olympic Games · FIFA · world football authority · Lord Coe · Sir Alex Ferguson

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