FIFA president Sepp Blatter has suggested that this could be the last time Great Britain enter football teams at the Olympics.
On the day that a British women’s team played its first ever competitive match – a 1-0 win over New Zealand at Old Trafford in the opening game of London 2012 – Blatter said that the British Olympic Association’s desire to have men’s and women’s teams at future Games was “legitimate” but unlikely to be fulfilled.
He said the opposition from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland would prove a difficult hurdle to overcome. The SFA – who last night declined the opportunity to comment on Blatter’s remarks – have strongly opposed a British football team in recent months, saying that their participation would endanger Scotland’s independence as a footballing nation.
“This is a wish and a legitimate wish of the British Olympic Association because they want to have a football team,” Blatter explained last night.
“But this is quite a difficult task I can tell you.
“The four British associations would have to play a preliminary round because the qualification is the European Under-21 championships.
“Everything is possible but this would need a different approach and you have seen the difficulties they have already had to field a combined team here in London.
“So for the football family, and especially the four associations and Uefa, I don’t think it is likely to be done.”
Blatter travelled to Cardiff yesterday to watch Great Britain’s women take on New Zealand at the Millennium Stadium.
“It is historical,” he added. “It is the first event of this Olympics and it’s significant in the development of women’s football which has only been in the Olympic programme since 1996.
“It is good for the motherland of football where the game was first organised and for the Olympics to be opened by the team of Great Britain.
“They have a good team – I have followed the development of the women’s team and England did well in the women’s World Cup.”
Blatter said before kick-off that he would be “proud” if the anticipated crowd of 40,000 in the Millennium Stadium all turned up. In fact, the official attendance was recorded at 24,549 but it was still a UK record for a women’s international match.
The FIFA president also praised the atmosphere in London – and confirmed that as an IOC member he had voted for the capital to host the Games.
Blatter said: “From what I have seen in London I have to say the ambience and the Olympic spirit is more tangible than when I was in Beijing – maybe because Beijing is so huge.
“I have a good feeling for London and I have been well received by everybody here.”
Asked to confirm whether he had voted for London in 2005, Blatter told reporters: “You should never disclose your votes.... but I voted for the winner.”
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