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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 October 2007, 10:28 GMT
Home nations dispute GB 2012 team
Welshman Ryan Giggs, Darren Fletcher of Scotland, and England's Wayne Rooney
A row is developing over the British Olympic Association's determination to field men's and women's football teams at the 2012 Olympic Games.

"We will field a team," BOA chief Simon Clegg told BBC One's Inside Sport.

However, the Scottish (SFA), Welsh (FAW) and Northern Ireland Football Associations have all opposed the idea.

They fear involvement with a British team could threaten their status with football's European and world governing bodies, despite Fifa's assurances.

Inside Sport reporter Matthew Pinsent spoke to Clegg and Gordon Smith, chief executive of the SFA.

And the Olympic gold medallist said: "The BOA started discussions with the Football Associations of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to find a way to put together a truly British team in both men's and women's competition for the Olympics.


"Whilst the English and the Northern Irish have been supportive, the FA of Wales and the Scottish FA have never even attended the meetings."

However, it now appears that Northern Ireland support for the initiative has also waned.

Under Jim Boyce's presidency, the Irish Football Association had been careful not to rule out Northern Ireland involvement in a GB team.

But current IFA president Raymond Kennedy told BBC Sport that he would be supporting the SFA and FAW's stance, adding: "We would not want to compromise our national identity."

There is no way Scotland would like to sacrifice their national football team

Former Scotland manager Craig Brown

And that view is also held by the FAW, with a spokesman claiming: "Nothing has changed from our point of view, (FAW secretary) David Collins has been very clear."

Two years ago, Collins vowed: "The FAW will not undertake anything that would jeopardise its position as a separate nation within Fifa and Uefa. It wants to continue playing football internationally as Wales."

Smith went as far as to say his association would prevent Scottish players from playing for a British team in the Games.

"All the players who are registered under the association or are Scottish international players would be prohibited from playing," he said.

"Some individuals may want to get involved, but I don't see it as an issue."

Clegg has claimed that would be unfair on any Scottish or Welsh players forced to miss out.

"I would be greatly disappointed if some of our most talented players were deprived the opportunity of competing as part of a GB team because of politics or administrators being unable to act in their best interests," he said.

Former Scotland manager Craig Brown
Brown managed Scotland from 1993-2001

But former Scotland manager Craig Brown is also concerned about the repercussions of fielding a British team in 2012.

He told BBC Radio 5 Live: "It might be OK in a one-off situation, but would it be a one-off situation? I suspect this would be the thin edge of the wedge.

"If we (Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales) were to agree and join with England we would find that the World Cup and the European Championship would want a Great Britain team as well.

"Gordon Smith is right. Russia, for example, has been split into 15 different countries now - 10 play in Uefa, five in Asia.

"Because of that, Fifa would like to combine some countries and make the whole situation more manageable.

"Although (Fifa president Sepp) Blatter says this would be a one-off, it would be ideal for him. He would say 'this has been very successful, we are now going to play as Great Britain'.

"We are proud of our nation and being Scottish. There is no way Scotland would like to sacrifice their national football team, and I am sure the English, Welsh and Irish feel the same.

For us there is no problem, I don't know why they are concerned

Fifa president Sepp Blatter

"We could compete as Scotland and it would be great if we were all able to try to qualify to compete in the Olympics.

"But I don't think there is any chance of it being agreed in a Scottish context. It is not paranoia, it is logic."

However, Blatter has attempted to assuage those fears, telling BBC sports editor Mihir Bose: "For us there is no problem, I don't know why they are concerned.

"The more they discuss, the more they will be in danger of someone saying 'OK they are not even happy themselves so we will change it'."

Blatter also said Fifa would not be concerned if every player came from one national association and played under the Great Britain name.

The UK entered a football team into the Olympic Games from 1908 until 1972.



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06 Dec 05 |  Internationals
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11 Nov 05 |  Scotland
No Scots for GB Olympic football
11 Nov 05 |  Football
SFA softens Olympic team stance
05 Oct 05 |  Football
Smith 'excited' by Olympic team
02 Sep 05 |  Internationals
Fifa green light for 2012 GB team
01 Sep 05 |  Football
Premier League backs 2012 GB team
20 Jul 05 |  Olympics 2012
FA wants GB team in 2012 Olympics
06 Jul 05 |  Olympics 2012


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