Greene: Kick football team out of 2012


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The Independent Online

World 400m hurdles champion Dai Greene has criticised the inclusion of a British football team at the London 2012 Games, insisting "there is no place for it at the Olympics".

The British Olympic Association have faced opposition to a team from the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish soccer associations because they want to protect their footballing independence.

Welsh athlete Greene, though, opposes the idea because he fears more traditional Olympic sports could be "overshadowed" by football next summer. "I don't think the football team should be there in the first place," he told BBC Wales.

"I hope that those big names don't overshadow those people who have trained for four years to be there for that one moment. These guys have four to five weeks off in the summer then become an Olympian. It does seem a little bit out of place.

"These guys wants to win Premierships, Champions League trophies and World Cup medals. They don't grow up wanting to be an Olympic champion, they want to be the best in football.

"The crowning glory in football isn't being Olympic champion so I don't think their sport should necessarily be involved – or at least at a professional level."

The former youth-team footballer added: "Most athletes would agree with what I'm saying. There's no place for it at the Olympics. When some guy wins a gold medal in badminton or swimming, they want it to be about them and their hard work and their story to get there. But sadly in some of the papers that might be overshadowed with what David Beckham had for breakfast maybe – and that is not a great story from our point of view. I'm all for players representing Team GB but I wish there wasn't a Team GB in the first place."

Meanwhile, England began the post-Fabio Capello era yesterday, nearly eight months before the Italian actually leaves. While Capello plots a Euro 2012 campaign that will bring an end to his time in charge, it will be left to other senior Football Association figures to try to thrash out a route to the 2014 World Cup.

Club England managing director Adrian Bevington will head an FA delegation, also including director of football development Sir Trevor Brooking, for a meeting in Warsaw with their counterparts from Poland, Ukraine, Montenegro, Moldova and San Marino.

They will want June qualifying matches to be avoided, or at the very least long trips – such as the one that took them to Kazakhstan in 2009.

Key matches against second seeds Ukraine and Montenegro, who England twice drew with in Euro 2012 qualifying, will be pencilled in for September or October.

If there is no resolution, the matter will be decided in a random draw by Fifaat a later date. With only one automatic place for Brazil on offer, the man who replaces Capello – FA chairman David Bernstein insists talks will not start until after Euro 2012 – will have reason to hope Bevington and Brooking get their way.