The British Olympic Association (BOA) has officially announced today that players from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will join hands for Team Great Britain in the men’s and women’s football competitions at next year’s 2012 London Olympics. But the official announcement termed as an „historic agreement“ could fall through, as the Football Associations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have rejected the deal.
The official release by the BOA said that „history will be made during the London 2012 Olympic Games as Team GB returns to the pitch in men’s Olympic football for the first time in 52 years, and competes in the women’s Olympic football tournament for the first time ever. The landmark announcement is being made today by the British Olympic Association (BOA), which has reached an agreement with The Football Association (FA) that will enable Team GB to compete in both men’s and women’s football at home in London 2012.“
„The FA is the designated National Governing Body for Olympic football within the National Olympic Committee, where it represents the interests of the Football Associations from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. For the 2012 Olympic football competition, the British sides will be administered by The FA which will have responsibility for nominating the managers, players and support personnel to the BOA for final selection to Team GB,“ the release stated.
„We absolutely respect the participation of the Home Nations as individual nations at all other football events; 2012 is unique, we are hosting the Olympic Games and what has been achieved is fantastic for all those who love sport and love to watch great football. I want to express my appreciation to all four Football Associations for their recognition of just how meaningful it will be for Team GB to compete in football in London 2012,“ Andy Hunt (BOA Chief Executive) said.
But the dream of a Team Great Britain could collapse just hours after the official announcement by the BOA! A joint press release by the FA’s of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland deny any agreement and rejected their support for a joint football team at the Olympics.
„The Football Associations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland reiterate our collective opposition to Team GB participation at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, contrary to the media release issued by the BOA. No discussions took place with any of us, far less [has any] historic agreement been reached,“ the press release stated.
„We have been consistently clear in explaining the reason for our stance, principally to protect the identity of each national association. With that in mind, we cannot support nor formally endorse the approach that has been proposed by the Football Association,“ it continued.
The last time Team GB was represented in the men’s Olympic football competition was the 1960 Games in Rome, beating Taiwan 3-2, drawing 1-1 with Italy and losing 4-3 to Brazil, thereby failing to advance to the medal round. Team GB has never competed in the women’s Olympic football tournament.