Britain's Fifa vice-president pours scorn on future Team GB football teams


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The Independent Online

Britain's FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce has poured cold water on calls by the Olympics minister for a Team GB football side to play in all future Games.

Hugh Robertson says London 2012 should not be a one-off but should be a launchpad for British Olympic football teams.

But Boyce pointed out there are issues concerning Olympic qualification - currently the European Under-21 Championship is used as a qualifying tournament and England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland all play in it separately.

FIFA would have to agree to a Team GB taking up an Olympics place if for example England qualified.

Boyce told the Press Association: "To the best of my knowledge it was made abundantly clear that a Great Britain team would be playing soccer at London 2012 purely because the Games were being staged in this country.

"Qualification for the Olympic Games takes place at the European Under-21 Championship finals but as the British associations play as four separate countries it would be impossible for one of these qualify under the current Olympic Games set-up."

Britain has not fielded a men's or women's football team at an Olympics since an amateur men's team played at the 1972 Games, and London 2012 had been viewed as a special occasion to allow the hosts to play.

Robertson, whose comments are likely to infuriate the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish FAs who are even opposed to Team GB at the London Olympics, said: "I would always want to see Team GB put in a football team simply because it is a fantastic opportunity for a young man or woman to represent their country at an Olympic Games.

"I absolutely want to see us use this as a launchpad and have a Team GB football team at every single Games.

"I hope that as a result of having finally decided we can do this, we can get over the politics and it would be a really good legacy from London."

The Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) have given their backing to the idea.

PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor said: "I think that if it is done with consideration for the clubs and the schedules I think that is reasonable.

"I see no reason why it shouldn't happen. It's once every four years and is a good opportunity for young players to represent their country."

Neither the FA nor the Scottish FA would comment.