Olympic obstacles for Britain's football dream

LONDON • British Olympics chiefs are facing strong resistance to their plans to reintroduce a football team representing Britain at the Tokyo Games in 2020, with the national football associations of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland all against the proposals.

Bill Sweeney, the British Olympic Association chief executive, said that meetings would be held with the respective FAs after Britain failed to field either a men's or women's team in Rio.

After England manager Sam Allardyce spoke out in favour of fielding a combined team in four years' time, hopes rose that the home national associations would support the idea.

However, such aspirations have suffered a serious setback after three of the four associations showed no inclination to change their positions.

British teams were entered for men and women at London 2012. But fears that the national associations could lose their independent status if they support participation in a joint team have led to each of them distancing themselves from the plans.

"Our position is well known," a spokesman for the Scottish FA said.

"We have always said that anybody who wants to play in Team GB is more than welcome to do that. We have had the situation before with the (2012) women's team.

"We would not stand in anybody's way. But the view of the fans is well known. The potential threat to independent status in the eyes of Fifa remains just that, a threat. The independent status of the home associations has to be sacrosanct; it has to be protected."

The Irish FA was equally unmoved for similar reasons.

"Our position remains that the Irish Football Association would not be in favour of sending players to a GB Olympic team," a spokesman said. "This is to protect our independent status within Fifa."

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 24, 2016, with the headline 'Olympic obstacles for Britain's football dream'. Print Edition | Subscribe