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Last Updated: Friday, 11 November 2005, 14:44 GMT
SNP repeats Olympic football call
Scotland players
The SNP wants Scotland to have its own Olympic team
The Scottish National Party has called for a Scottish football team to be given "a shot" at the London Olympics.

Its plea follows confirmation that plans for a Great Britain football team for the London games in 2012 will go ahead without any Scottish involvement.

SNP leader Alex Salmond said he agreed with the Scottish Football Association (SFA) that the future of an independent national side must not be jeopardised.

A spokesman for the Tartan Army said fans would not support a GB team.

The SFA ruled out taking part in any Great Britain football team at the London games during a meeting of the four Home Nations' associations in Belfast on Thursday.

A spokesman said: "We are just being entirely consistent with the position we have had for years."

SNP leader Alex Salmond
Our footballers deserve a shot at the Olympics and that means being part of a Scottish Olympic team
SNP leader Alex Salmond

Since London won the bid in July this year, the SNP has been vocal in its demands for Scotland to field a separate Olympic team.

Mr Salmond said the future of an independent Scottish football team must be protected.

"But that does not mean Scottish football should not be represented at the London Olympics," he said.

"Our footballers deserve a shot at the Olympics and that means being part of a Scottish Olympic team.

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"There is no legal barrier to Scotland having an Olympic team. The only opposition so far is from politicians who always put Britain first."

But Labour MP Jim Sheridan doubted whether fans had been consulted.

Mr Sheridan told BBC Radio Scotland that when he first raised the matter with the SFA, he received a two-line response.

The MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North added: "I also asked what consultation had taken place - and I'm still asking the question.

"What role have the fans got in this? Does the SFA just take these unilateral decisions without taking the views of fans on board?

"We have other British teams for other sports - I just don't see why football has to be different from anything else."

'Pernicious nonsense'

Tartan Army spokesman Ian Black said the idea of Scotland taking part in a GB Olympics team was a non-starter.

He said: "It's pernicious nonsense which is about as welcome in this country as the Black Death or avian flu.

"They're pushing (Fifa president) Sepp Blatter's agenda for a GB team to take part in a football World Cup and it's just complete anathema to me."

The Scottish Tories said the players should have the final say on whether to join a GB team or not.

'Politiking' claim

Tory sport spokesman Jamie McGrigor said: "As it stands, Scottish footballers would be the only athletes in Britain, who participate in an Olympic sport, who will be denied the chance to compete.

"This would not be because of their ability, but because of politiking at a higher level. The vast majority of Scots are proud to be both Scottish and British, so why should anyone deny them that dual allegiance?" The Campaign for a Scottish Olympic Team welcomed the SFA's stance.

Spokesman John Shaw said: "The SFA are correct in stating that Scotland's footballing identity could be at risk if a combined GB team entered the Olymopic tournament."


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SEE ALSO:
No Scots for GB Olympic football
11 Nov 05 |  Football
Minister torches Olympic team bid
06 Oct 05 |  Scotland
Olympic win 'good for Scotland'
06 Jul 05 |  Scotland


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