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FAW say Olympic rejection protects Wales independence

Jonathan Ford
Jonathan Ford argues his case on Friday's Sport Wales programme

Football Association of Wales chief executive Jonathan Ford says their refusal to allow players to compete at the Olympics protects the Wales team.

In an interview for Friday's Sport Wales programme, Ford rejects Fifa president Sepp Blatter's assurances.

Scotland and Northern Ireland share FAW concerns that merging into Team GB could threaten their independence.

"I absolutely do want to see a Welsh team performing both now and in 50 years' time," Ford says.

The associations of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland share a concern that merging for an Olympics could be used by other nations as a justification to get rid of their individual national sides.

Blatter gave an assurance over nations' independence during the 125th International Football Association Board (IFAB) conference in early March, at which delegates voted in favour of testing goal-line technology.

Ford used that reversal of policy over goal-line technology to stress why he remain unconvinced by a Fifa promise.

Asked if he was happy with the guarantee, Ford said: "Are you happy with the guarantee at the 124th meeting that technology wasn't going to be introduced? Of course, that changed, too.

"I absolutely took on board Mr Blatter's comments. They were very well received. But Mr Blatter is one person within many in Fifa.

"Ultimately, we want to ensure that we are protected, both now and in the future, and to ensure that we have a Welsh team competing at the highest level possible, representing our country going forth in the European Championships and World Cup.

"I don't want that to change and I'm sure English fans don't want it to change, either.

"Let's be honest [if we combined for the Olympics] there wouldn't be an England team any more, there wouldn't be a Scotland team or a Northern Ireland team.

"So, I think the majority of people in Wales want to see a Welsh team carrying on in football and competing at the highest possible level."

Ford also questioned the value of an Olympic football tournament that is restricted to Under-23 players, except for two overage players.

"You need to also go back and look at what this Olympic football tournament represents.

"At the end of the day, the Olympics is about the best of the best. That's what it is in every other sport.

"Why then in football, do we have an age-limited competition? That's just silly in the first place.

"At the end of the day, we already perform at the highest possible level in football and have the FIFA World Cup on a global basis and the UEFA Championships on a European basis.

"That is our Olympics. They are the tournaments in which we participate."

See the full interview on Friday's Sport Wales, BBC TWO Wales at 1900 GMT.

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see also
Sport Wales: The TV Programme
15 Mar 11 |  Wales
FAW to dash Bale's Olympic hopes
13 Jan 11 |  Welsh
FAW's stance frustrates Harries
15 Feb 11 |  London 2012
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales

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