Sebastian Coe disputes Alex Ferguson view of Olympics football team

 

Sebastian Coe has insisted Sir Alex Ferguson's young stars could benefit from being part of the Great Britain Olympic football team.

The Manchester United boss has said he does not want England players such as Phil Jones and Chris Smalling to play in both Euro 2012 and the Olympics.

But London 2012 chairman Coe said players such as Carlos Tevez and Lionel Messi had gained valuable experience for previous Games.

Coe said: "I know that Alex and other managers will want their players to be fit and healthy for the Premier League.

"But actually Alex is a believer in Olympic football and I have spoken to him about it. That is very clearly Alex wearing his Manchester United, Premier League manager's hat and I know some managers will inevitably do so.

"But this is about prioritising. There are a lot of players that would like to play in the Olympic Games and there are a lot of managers that think it is an important part of the development of a player.

"I went to the Olympic final in Athens just as a fan. I watched Argentina against Paraguay in the final and Carlos Tevez was playing, basically making his international debut, and Lionel Messi played in the 2008 final in Beijing.

"So there is an extraordinary opportunity for young players and a lot of countries do use the Olympic tournament as a way of giving young players that tournament experience when it is probably less important in a way for them than their European or continental championships or even a World Cup."

Tickets for the London 2012 football tournament went back on sale yesterday with 1.5million available at the six venues around the country including for the Great Britain men's and women's matches.

The men's tournament is for players aged under-23, though each squad is permitted three over-age players, while the women's tournament is for players of any age.

There have been suggestions that Team GB coach Stuart Pearce may pick Ryan Giggs and/or David Beckham as one of the over-age players as they will not have been involved in Euro 2012.

Coe added: "That's all part of the process - having these pub conversations about who you would put in the team, but that is for Stuart Pearce to decide."

The matches will be at six venues: Wembley, Old Trafford, Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, St James' Park in Newcastle, the City of Coventry Stadium and Hampden Park in Glasgow.

Coe confirmed that due to Olympics sponsorship rules London 2012 will to refer to St James' Park rather than the new title of the Sport Direct Arena, and similarly Coventry's ground will not be called the Ricoh Arena.

Coe said: "St James' Park is known around the United Kingdom, and around the world, as a football stadium."

PA

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