Sports minister Richard Caborn has said Britain's four football nations may unite and form a Great Britain side if London wins its 2012 Olympic bid.
Caborn confirmed to BBC Radio Sheffield that the associations of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are considering the plan.
"I'm cautiously optimistic that we will be able to put a team into 2012, if the bid is successful," Caborn said.
"I know that the associations are looking at this very seriously."
Such a proposal has always been rejected in the past as associations feared they could lose votes at an international level as well as places at tournaments such as the World Cup and European Championship.
However, Fifa has dismissed speculation that such a move would reduce the standing of each of the countries in the global game.
And it also backs a unified team as a means of boosting the women's game in Great Britain.
"Fifa has offered no objection to a GB team playing in the Olympic Games," a London bid statement read.
The announcement that the 2012 Olympic football tournament will be played around Britain supports Caborn's claims.
Matches in both the men's and women's competitions will be played at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, Windsor Park in Belfast and Glasgow's Hampden Park, should London's bid win the Olympics.
Old Trafford, Villa Park and St James's Park will laso host games, with the finals being contested at the new Wembley.