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Simon Clegg
" If we entered a team it wouldn't in anyway undermine or change the home countries status with FIFA"
 real 14k

Friday, 26 January, 2001, 14:29 GMT
Fifa gives all-clear for GB Olympic team
Fifa president Sepp Blatter
Fifa chief Sepp Blatter: No objections to a British team
The chances of a British football team competing in the Olympics have increased after Fifa said that the move would not affect the status of the four home nations.

Fifa communications director Keith Cooper said the world governing body would continue to recognise the individual Football Associations of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

"The four associations would retain their separate status even if a Great Britain team competed at the Olympics," he said.

The issue has come to prominence since Simon Clegg, chief executive of the British Olympic Association, raised the idea after a meeting with FA chief Adam Crozier.

We have no divine right to play because you have to qualify to play in the Olympics
  Scottish FA spokesman

The four individual FAs are the biggest stumbling block to the idea - because of their concerns about losing influence within both Fifa and Uefa.

Regardless of Fifa's assurances, critics of the plan remain unconvinced the idea would actually work.

A spokesman for the Scottish FA said: "This is a non-starter because you have to look at the practical considerations as well as the national ones.

"We have no divine right to play because you have to qualify to play in the Olympics.

"We have the European Under-21 Championships and from that only four nations go through to the Olympic Games.

Limited player availability

"Each of the nations - England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland - has an Under-21 team.

"It would mean scrapping the Scotland Under-21 side which is something that would not be considered because it is an essential stepping stone to the full national team.

"The Olympics also takes place in August or September and clubs from all four nations would not be willing to release players for weeks."

Players competing in the Olympics must be under 23, with three overage players permitted.

The last time Britain entered a men's football team in the Olympics was in the qualifying round for the 1968 Mexico Games.

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