POSTED: May 29th 2009

Team GB handed 2012 football OK

Growing impatient: FIFA president Sepp Blatter /
Growing impatient: FIFA president Sepp Blatter /

KEIR RADNEDGE / Sports Features Communications

LONDON: An end is in sight to the unsightly wrangling between the four British football associations over a Great Britain team at the 2012 London Olympic Games.

The Football Association has always wanted to take up the hosts’ right to enter a football team even though Great Britain – the national identity for the Olympics – has not contested even the qualifiers since 1972.

The reasoning was a fear that a united British team would then be forced to compete in the World Cup – even though this would directly contravene FIFA statutes.

Now the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland associations have agreed to withdraw objections to England representing Great Britain in the 2012 Olympics. The three have sent a joint letter, to that effect, to the world federation. Scottish FA spokesman Rob Shorthouse said: “I think the English are going to go it alone."

Formal confirmation is not expected until next week after further notifications to the British Olympic Association and to the International Olympic Committee.

The Olympic competition in 2012 will be for under-21 teams since FIFA is expected, at its imminent Congress in the Bahamas, to scrap the option of three over-age players – which was barely used by finalists in Beijing last year.

Scottish nationalists' demand

The issue has been complicated by the high-profile political intervention of the ruling Scottish National Party north of the border. Christine Grahame, who chairs the Scottish Parliament's health and sport committee, has even called for the resignation of the Scottish FA’s chief executive Gordon Smith for dropping resistance to the England/Britain project.

UK Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe said: “I am disappointed about [the withdrawl of Scots, Irish and Welsh] because I think it would have been a great opportunity for young players under-23 to experience playing in our great arenas at the Olympics.”

FIFA president Sepp Blatter told SportsFeatures earlier this year that impatience at squabbling over the issue could be more damaging to the British countries’ independence than sending out a unified team in 2012.

See also:
And then:

Keywords · 2012 London Olympic Games · Football Association · FIFA · IOC · Blatter

For more information contact:
Laura Walden ()

All original materials contained in this section are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Sports Features Communications, Inc the owner of that content. It is prohibited to alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.