BOA Will Not Exclude Non-English Players from GB Soccer Team

December 23, 2010

The British Olympic Association (BOA) is clashing with some of the British home soccer bodies over the selection of non-English players for the London 2012 Olympics.

The Football Association of Wales (FAW) reiterated that Welsh players, such as Tottenham star Gareth Bale, would risk suspension if they take part in London 2012 just days ago. BOA Chief Executive, Andy Hunt told insidethegames that “our selection policy has to comply with the Olympic Charter”.

He reiterated that the “possibility of practising sport without discrimination of any kind” must be available: “We cannot have an explicit agreement that excludes non-English players from the team if they have expressed a wish to be selected”.

In a recent interview Bale, one of the players who would be widely expected to join up with a probable strong English contingent in a GB team, stated that “I would love to play in the Olympics, especially as it would be a part of a Great Britain team.”

The FAW as well as counterparts in Northern Ireland and Scotland, fear that if it allowing this to happen may jeopardise their nations independence to compete in major events like the World Cup and European Championships.

BOA Chairman Lord Moynihan sought to address these fears earlier this month in an appearance before a committee of MPs, saying he was “sensitive” to their concerns.

“That is one of the reasons that we worked with FIFA to make sure that letters went out from [FIFA President] Sepp Blatter to them making absolutely clear that there was no threat whatsoever to their autonomy and to their independence in playing as Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and England,” he continued, adding: “Clearly England don’t feel the same threat.”

He went on: “I believe that if we need to repeat these assertions, or we need to do some further work to give comfort to the Home Nations, we should do that because I respect their concerns and I think those concerns need to be overcome.

“But I think this is now an issue that can be dealt with in the interests of the athletes.”