Inside Lines: England expects but Olympic ball game at sixes and sevens

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The Independent Online

So the other Home Nations are graciously (or rather, ungraciously) allowing Great Britain to be represented by an all-England team in the 2012 Olympic football tournament. Big deal. No doubt though, they'll still be happy for matches to be played as scheduled in Glasgow, Cardiff and possibly Belfast, thus collecting a few bob in gate money. Sorry to disagree with my colleague Jamie Corrigan's Last Word, but such self-centred intransigence will not have gone unnoticed by the International Olympic Committee and Fifa, who see football as one of the Games' money-spinning showpieces. The 2012 chief Lord Coe is too politically polite to say so but you can bet he is privately seething at the bloody-mindedness of the Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland FAs. At least both men and women's teams will be there in 2012, albeit as England in disguise. And the probability that the men's tournament will now be restricted to players under 21 (with Stuart Pearce strongly tipped to manage it) is good news for the likes of the England youth captain John Bostock, the 17-year-old blossoming star at Spurs, who articulated his Olympic ambitions so well in these pages last week. Unfortunately, other British youngsters who may feel the same are being unjustly denied their opportunity. Now here is an intriguing Olympic poser for our insular cousins. Rugby Sevens is pushing hard for inclusion in 2016. If it gets in will the Scots, Welsh and Irish again refuse to scrum down with England citing the same "principle"?

FA need lucky Heather

Sensibly the FA have included bid expert Lord Coe in their delegation to the Fifa congress in the Bahamas this weekend, an ideal lobbying opportunity for the 2018 World Cup. But with the importance of the diversity issue, shouldn't they be calling on the feisty Heather Rabbatts to add colour and dynamism to the bid? Rabbatts, who is stepping down as Millwall's chief executive, is available and well qualified with a genuine working knowledge of football – surely better equipped to help fight England's corner than Baroness Amos, whose presence on the board seems to baffle everyone save the chairman, fellow Labour peer Lord Triesman.

Bruno the brainboxer

Clever cloggers, these Ukrainians. The giant Klitschko brothers, who between them hold four of the current five versions of the world heavyweight title, are both doctors of philosophy. Now along comes countryman Andreas Kotelnik, who defends his WBA light-welter belt against Amir Khan in London on 27 June between studying for his doctorate in sports science. At least the British fight game can boast a real brainboxer in the aptly-named Nathan Cleverly, the 22-year-old Commonwealth light-heavy champ who is studying maths at Cardiff University and has just completed a paper on Numerical Solutions of Ellipitic Differential Equations. Carl Froch also has a university degree though this didn't help him avoid an early KO in an all-boxers charity episode of The Weakest Link to be seen shortly on BBC1. Also flattened was Barry McGuigan (who oddly thought Boxing Day fell in February). So guess whose hand was held aloft by Anne Robinson? None other than dear old Frank Bruno. Not just a pretty face then, know what I mean?

insidelines@independent.co.uk

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