Smith warns Holyrood members over 2012 Team GB
Thursday 05 March 2009
The Scottish Football Association have warned MSPs to stay out of the debate over a British Olympic team. Members of a Scottish Parliament committee agreed on Tuesday to write to Fifa and other governing bodies to ask for clarification on their position over the prospect of a unified United Kingdom team taking part in 2012. Fifa claim the independence of the four home nations would not be jeopardised by participation in the London games.
However, the SFA have consistently countered that they are in no position to give such assurances as Fifa members are free to reject such promises in future years. Their counterparts in Wales and Northern Ireland have backed their stance, although the Football Association have embraced the prospect of a Team GB.
The SFA chief executive, Gordon Smith, is "extremely concerned" by the Holyrood petitions committee's decision to get involved after debating a petition opposing the prospect of a Team GB.
Smith said: "If there is one thing that Fifa dislikes, it is political involvement in football issues. This is something that we would, of course, have told the members of the committee had they sought to ask us our views.
"It is also the case that, if they write to Fifa, then they will undoubtedly get a view that they have no issue with a one-off Team GB competing at the London Olympics. However, I would have thought that politicians would understand politics better than anyone.
"As we have made clear again and again it is not the view of the current Fifa members that matters – it is the views of members in the future that will count. Again, had we been asked, we would have made this clear."
The SFA recently wrote a joint letter with their Welsh and Irish counterparts outlining their opposition amid lobbying from other political figures. The culture secretary, Andy Burnham, this week insisted no player should be prevented from taking part after the SFA president, George Peat, claimed Fifa counterpart Sepp Blatter had privately undermined the governing body's assurances.
The Scottish secretary, Jim Murphy, had earlier held talks with Fifa and received assurances, which the SFA had already dismissed as unreliable. Now the SFA have told politicians and the British Olympic Association to leave the issue alone.
Smith said: "Fans are against Team GB, players are against Team GB and three out of four governing bodies are against Team GB. It is time that people at Holyrood, Westminster and the BOA stopped treating this issue as a political football and let football govern football."
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