As Gonzo noted back in July, Tony Blair had said he thought “it would be a good idea” to have a Great Britain [and NI – Ed] football team at the 2012 London Olympics, the difficulty would be getting the four football associations to agree. Today’s Guardian reports that at a meeting on Thursday two of the four did agree – the Scottish and Welsh FAs did not attend. A British women’s football team will compete in Beijing 2008, and both a men’s and women’s team in London 2012From the Guardian
A meeting of the four home nations’ FAs called by the BOA on Thursday was not attended by the Welsh and Scottish but it was still agreed to enter a British women’s team for the 2008 Beijing Games and men’s and women’s teams for London 2012.
“We will be going ahead anyway and my aspiration is to field the strongest possible teams and I would hope that sports administrators would not hold back their finest footballers, men or women, from participating in this great event,” said Simon Clegg, chief executive of the BOA. “It is the BOA who selects the team to go to the games.”
The article notes the attempts to re-assure the Scottish and Welsh FAs
Even though Sepp Blatter, the president of Fifa and a member of the International Olympic Committee, has written to Scotland and Wales to try to reassure them they have nothing to worry about by entering the Olympics, they are still concerned that the international governing bodies would use it as a weapon to force them to compete under a British flag in major tournaments such as the World Cup and European Championships.
Blatter again last night guaranteed the independence of the Scots and Welsh. “We have confirmed in writing that they have to provide a Great Britain team for the 2012 Olympics but the four British associations will not lose the rights and privileges acquired back in 1947,” a spokesman for Fifa said. “They will play with one team but it is up to them how they do it. It can be a mixed team, it can be from just one of the home nations, whatever they want to do.”
Also worth pointing to is that the Olympic football teams are open to any player under the age of 23.
Britain has not qualified for the final stages of the Olympic football tournament since 1960 but an amateur team did continue to try to qualify until 1972, when they were knocked out by a virtually full-strength Bulgarian team. The rules have since changed and the Olympics are open to any player under the age of 23 and in many parts of the world are considered the second most important tournament after the World Cup.