Welsh stand firm on 2012 team as Bale suggests he would like to play
Thursday 13 January 2011
Welsh football chiefs remain opposed to any of their country's players representing Great Britain at the London 2012 Olympics. Tottenham and Wales star Gareth Bale, one of the hottest properties in the British game, has reportedly intimated his interest in featuring at the tournament. At present, that is not possible as the Football Association of Wales (FAW), along with its Scottish and Northern Irish counterparts, is refusing to take part.
Those associations fear that their independent status within world governing body Fifa could be jeopardised if they were to participate. The English Football Association has therefore agreed to represent the host nation at the Games.
The British Olympic Association insists, however, it would be discriminatory if the FA refuses to select players from any of the other home nations. The impasse seems unlikely to be broken soon with the FAW yesterday insisting it would not make its players available.
FAW chief executive Jonathan Ford said: "Our position on this has not changed and is unlikely to change. There is no drive for us to change our position."
With Wales having not qualified for a major tournament since 1958, the attraction for a player such as 21-year-old Bale to the Olympic event is obvious. Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey, 20, is another player who would probably come into consideration if selection for the Olympic tournament, which is an under-23 competition, was open.
Ford says no player has come forward with a request to the FAW about the matter. He added: "We haven't been in a situation where anybody has been approached. Let's take one step at a time and if we get to that we will have the discussion at that time."
Ford was speaking at a press conference to announce Vauxhall as the FAW's new main sponsor until the end of the 2014 World Cup campaign. The car manufacturer has already agreed a deal with the English FA and is expected to make further announcements in conjunction with Scotland and Northern Ireland in the coming days.
These new sponsorship deals have coincided with reports that the Home International tournament could be revived.
The FA has played down the suggestions by saying that it is considering arranging a series of friendlies with the other home nations in 2013, the year of their 150th anniversary.
Ford has gone a step further by suggesting England could be included in that year's Carling Nations Cup. That competition takes place for the first time this year with Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland playing in a round-robin event in Dublin.
Ford added: "I can confirm that some provisional discussions have taken place but they are just discussions at the moment with regard to what the remit of the 2013 tournament could be.
"I can certainly suggest on behalf of the Football Association of Wales, that if England did come back into the fold for a competition we would be delighted to take part ourselves."
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