Speed upset at Olympic stunt


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The Independent Online

Gary Speed, the Wales manager, has criticised Olympics football as "not important" and said Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey were being used as a publicity stunt for the Games.

Speed, who is determined to focus on the start of the next World Cup qualifying campaign, believes the appearance of the talented pair photographed in Team GB kits was "influenced" by their Adidas boot sponsors.

"We have to prioritise, in terms of it not being important in the football world," Speed said. "It's unfortunate Gareth and Aaron have been used in the way they have to publicise it.

"I think there has been a lot of propaganda going on that we could do without, because they are basically using them to promote the Olympics. The fact they are Welsh and wear a certain type of football boot has probably influenced that.

"Fans have to understand they cannot blame G and A for this. They are being used purely for propaganda ... in terms of what type of football boots they wear."

The Football Association of Wales opposes its players featuring for Stuart Pearce's team as it fears losing Wales's national standing with Fifa and Uefa. Wales forward Craig Bellamy, however, supports the idea of the pair playing next summer.

"They are good enough to do it. If they do get the opportunity I for one will back that," the former national team captain said. "Do I believe one or two players... deserve the chance to represent Great Britain in the Olympics? Of course they do. For me it's a great honour for them.

"The Argentinians [and] the Brazilians have all taken it seriously. They've all played their top young players. I remember seeing [Brazil's] Ronaldo in '96. Kanu [of Nigeria] and [Argentina's Carlos] Tevez have won them [Olympic gold medals].

"What a great experience it is for that group of young players. If we could have one or two involved in it, what experience that brings our national team as well.

"If we're trying to qualify off the back of one or two players who have had that experience, it will only benefit Welsh football."

Bellamy also responded to opposition to Wales players being included. "How can we lose our identity? I don't understand it, I don't get it one bit. There will always be a Welsh national team."