Scottish duo Little and Dieke poised to defy SFA over GB Olympic team
Scotland internationals Kim Little and Ifeoma Dieke are set to defy the SFA after being selected for Great Britain’s inaugural women’s football squad but, while their actions have angered the national association, they will not face repercussions.
The Scots are the only two non-English players in the 18-strong squad for this summer’s Games and their inclusion has disappointed the Scottish FA who have have been unequivocal in their opposition to Team GB, fearing it could jeopardise the home nations’ independent membership of FIFA and representation on the International Football Association Board.
But, unable to force players to turn their back on their Olympic dream they had hoped their concerns would be noted and that all overtures would be rebuffed.
Little and Dieke, who have 160 Scotland caps between them have, however, jumped at the opportunity to be part of manager Hope Powell’s plans, while Glasgow City’s Jane Ross is one of four players on standby.
“The players have not officially told us that they intend to play but every player was made aware of the Scottish FA’s position with regards Team GB,” said an SFA spokesperson. “The decision, ultimately, comes down to the individual and the national coach [Anna Signeul] remains 100 per cent confident that these players are fully committed to Scotland and to the job of qualifying for Euro 2013.”
It was stressed that there would be no backlash and no threat of the duo being frozen out of the Scotland set-up in future if they do pull on the red, white and blue of Team GB.
It is understood that when initial contact was made with a number of Scottish internationals as the Olympic coaches tried to gauge interest north of the border, the SFA chief executive Stewart Regan met with the women’s squad to inform them of their stance and to spell out the association’s fears. But Little, in particular, has always been adamant that, if she received the invitation, she would “grab it with both hands”.
“I would definitely play,” she said late last year, claiming she would be unable and unwilling to deny herself the opportunity to perform in what she regards as the biggest sporting tournament ever.
The 21-year-old midfielder is already a big star in the British game, having won her first full Scotland cap aged just 17.
She has also been an integral part of the Arsenal Ladies side which has excelled at club level, earning player of the match awards along with medals. Earmarked for even greater things, she has been described as world class. The Olympics could offer her the platform to prove that, although, along with her national team-mates she is also edging closer to manoeuvring Scotland into their first major championships, their victories in the recent double-header against Israel and Republic of Ireland leaving them just one point from securing second place in their qualifying group for Euro 2013.
Little, who already has 70 caps netted a hat-trick in that 8-1 mauling of Israel to take her goal tally to 23. She is joined in the Team GB squad by several of her Arsenal colleagues, reflecting the London club’s strength at domestic level. Ellen White, Rachel Yankey and Stephanie Houghton are all in the team which won last year’s inaugural FA Women’s Superleague .
While Little is one of the rising stars, Dieke is an experienced defender. Having earned a scholarship to Florida International University, she played for Atlanta Beat before signing up to play professionally for Chicago Red Stars. The 31-year-old centre-back has also plied her trade in Cyprus but is currently turning out for Swedish side Vittsjo. She made her debut for Scotland in 2004 and has 90 caps.
Although there are no Welsh players involved, Team GB will open their campaign against New Zealand at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on July.
“The whole country will be behind the team when they kick off against New Zealand and, hopefully, they can set the tone by getting off to a winning start,” said British Chef de Mission, Andy Hunt.
Stuart Pearce is set to unveil the men’s squad next week with former Scotland striker Steven Fletcher tipped to be involved.
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