THE Football Association intends to enter men’s and women’s Great Britain teams for the Rio Olympics next year, it can be disclosed.
The FA had originally ruled out entering teams but has now written to the Scottish, Northern Irish and Welsh associations informing the FAs of their intentions and asking if they would like to take part.
A British Olympic Association (BOA) spokesperson said: “We have received confirmation from the FA of their intention to enter into the qualification process for Rio 2016 for both men and women’s tournaments.”
The move has caused some anger among the other home nations - particularly at the Football Association of Wales (FAW) - who fear it may threaten their separate status, but it remains to be seen whether they can block the move, which will have to be agreed by FIFA.
Team GB teams played at the London 2012 Olympics with players from a variety of the home nations despite the three associations refusing to officially take part, and the FA intends to submit teams again.
Five Wales internationals including Ryan Giggs and Aaron Ramsey were selected for Team GB in 2012, but the rest of the squad were English, while there were two Scots - Ifeoma Dieke and Kim Little - in the 18-strong women’s squad.
The letter from the FA was sent by former general secretary Alex Horne on his last day in his position before he left the organisation. It is understood the FA is particularly keen on a women’s team in terms of developing the sport in Britain.
The issue was discussed by the home nations at a meeting in Belfast last week before the International FA Board. FA chairman Greg Dyke said the parties were “still talking” about the plan.
The top four in the men’s European Under-21 tournament qualify for the Olympics, as do the top three European teams in the women’s World Cup.
In October 2012, Horne said there was a possibility a women’s team might be entered for Rio but ruled out a GB men’s team saying: “We are proud to play as England and I know Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are proud to play as their own individual entities and we wouldn’t want to do anything to risk that.”
It has since emerged however that any agreement for a women’s team would also have to cover a British men’s team too.
The FAW is still smarting with the FA over what they claim is a breach of an agreement that they would be able to nominate the British FIFA vice-president this year.
The FA has put forward David Gill as a candidate however, saying the agreement no longer applies because the position is elected by UEFA and not the four home nations any more. FAW president Trefor Lloyd Hughes is challenging Gill for the post at the election on March 24.
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