BOA Claim British Olympic Soccer Team Closer than Ever
June 20, 2011
The British Olympic Association (BOA) chief executive Andy Hunt believes the body is closer than ever before to establishing ground-rules paving the way for non-English soccer stars such as Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey to represent Britain at London 2012.
Hunt stated: “I have been at this for over two years. I am incredibly positive that we will get to an outcome where we will field a men’s and a women’s football team.
“We have got some final things to resolve…but I am incredibly positive. More positive than I have ever been before when asked that question.”
The appearance of genuinely British soccer teams at the London Olympics is dependent on the four Home Nations allowing their players to take part, if selected and if they wish to do so.
The Football Associations of Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland have all opposed the idea in the past, fearing that their future independence to enter national teams for competitions such as the European Championships and the World Cup would be jeopardised.
Pressure has mounted from the Association’s own stars to change tack, with Wales captain Ramsey last month joining international team-mate Bale in stating publicly that he wants to represent Britain in next year’s Olympic tournament.
If ground-rules on selection cannot be agreed, it could lead to the embarrassment of a 2012 Olympic tournament without British teams – a scenario likely to be a severe disappointment to many fans.
However, Hunt added: “Any policy that is discriminatory would be in breach of the Olympic Charter, it’s as simple as that.
“That’s why it was never acceptable to us to have a selection policy that may have only been for English players.”