The No Team GB campaign has accused British Olympic Association (BOA) chairman Lord Moynihan of putting the future of the England team in “jeopardy”. Moynihan yesterday warned that picking English players only for Team GB might lead to legal challenges from non-English players.
In May 2009 England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland reached an agreement that only English players would be selected for the 2012 Olympic football team. The decision followed fears from the Scottish, Welsh, and Northern Irish FAs that an Olympic Team GB might encourage FIFA to put pressure on all four FAs to amalgamate.
The deal was cleared by both FIFA and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) who were happy with the compromise. However the BOA believe that the agreement would be in breach of the Olympic Charter: “We would open ourselves up to legal challenges if the pool of players available for selection was England only,” said Moynihan.
But the No Team GB campaign today outlined their fears: “We believe that the future of the England football team has been put in jeopardy by the recent comments of Lord Moynihan. His push for a GB football team spells the end for the current independent status that the four home nations have in world football.”
Despite previous reassurances from FIFA that a Team GB featuring all the home nations would not endanger their privileged positions within world football the No Team GB campaign feel these promises should be treated with extreme cynicism.
“Promises from people in authority that this will not happen are not trusted by the fans. After recent events concerning the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids, Lord Moynihan’s assertion that Sepp Blatter has reassured the respective FAs of their continued autonomy is likely to be greeted with some derision,” said Ken Malley of the FSF.
FIFA statutes say that membership depends on a country being recognised as an “independent state” – how the home nations could claim this should they join together when it suits is a question the BOA has not seriously acknowledged.
The No Team GB campaign argues that instead of the BOA asking FIFA to bend their rules they should look at the BOA’s own rules and consider asking the IOC for special dispensation for a Team England, Team Scotland, Team Wales, and Team Northern Ireland to participate in Olympic football.
The home associations insist they will not back down from the current agreement with the Football Association of Wales chief executive Jonathan Ford adding: “We would love to submit a team - but it should be a Welsh team. There is no change from that position.”
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