Team GB agreement squashed
LONDON -- The Welsh and Scottish Football Associations say they have no plans to be part of a combined Team GB at the London Olympics, despite claims from the British Olympic Association that an agreement has been reached between all four home nations for the tournament.
The BOA announced Tuesday that players from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will be eligible for the men's and women's British soccer teams at next year's games, following a landmark agreement with the English Football Association.
However, those claims were immediately scratched in a joint statement released from the three associations, and signed by their chief executives.
"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 British Olympic Association," it read.
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have been blocking plans to have combined British teams at Olympic Games because they don't want to jeopardize their status as separate teams in UEFA and FIFA events.
"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," the joint statement read.
The BOA said the four British associations have been assured by FIFA that "participation in the 2012 Olympic Football Tournament will in no way compromise their autonomy and independence for other FIFA-sanctioned tournaments, nor will it have any impact on their positions of leadership within the FIFA governance structure."
As far as The English FA is concerned, it is a done deal.
"We are pleased that the team will be selected from players across the home nations and I'd like to thank our counterparts at the Welsh, Irish and Scottish FAs for their understanding on what is a difficult issue," FA general secretary Alex Horne said.
The BOA said Britain would have a team in the men's tournament for the first time in 52 years. There has never been a women's Team GB at an Olympics.
"It has been a long, six-year journey to get to this point, with very real considerations from the home nations that first had to be recognized, respected and resolved," BOA chief executive Andy Hunt. "We absolutely respect the participation of the home nations as individual nations at all other football events; 2012 is unique."
The men's squad will be 18 players -- 15 under 23s and three "open age" players.
The BOA said the process of selecting players will begin later this year, with announcement of the squads in the summer of 2012.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press