A team for who?



Tuesday, 23 Dec 2008, 11:27

At their annual conference which was held in Tokyo last week, Fifa gave their approval to the British Olympic Association’s plans to create a united British team for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

The announcement comes despite protestations by Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland who see the creation of such a team as a direct threat to their existence as independent members of Fifa and Uefa.

"The executive committee confirmed that the participation in the 2012 London Olympic Games of a single team representing Great Britain would not affect the existing individual status of the four British football associations," saif Fifa President, Sepp Blatter, on Saturday.
"We have no problem with that because four British associations are identified in Fifa statutes as being four different entities."

But the governing body said that the four associations – Scotland, Wales Northern Ireland and England – would report back to Fifa by March 2009.

The Scottish and Welsh Football Associations have refused to discuss the matter believing that uniting as a single entity for the London Games in 2012 would be a threat to the very existence of the individual associations.

But as we canvassed opinion around the football grounds of Wales on Friday and Saturday, there was a differnce of opinion.

Fyddai TeamGB yn golygu na fyddwn yn gallu gwylio Aaron Ramsey yng nghrys coch Cymru?Some were more concerned about how many Welshmen would be selcted for the side than they were about any threat Team GB might pose to the Welsh national side.

"I’m a bit worried the team would be full of Englishmen," said one fan at Neath’s match on Friday night. "There are enough decent Welsh boys who could get in that team."

Other fans seemes to accept Fifa president Sepp Blatter’s guarantee that the future of Wales’ national side would not be at risk: "If (Sepp) Blatter says everything will be okay, then I’m not sure what all the fuss is about," said another fan.

But despite giving his assurances last week, this is what Fifa’s president had to say on the matter when he met with Scottish officials back in March:

"If you start to put together a combined team for the Olympic Games, the question will automatically come up that there are four different associations so how can they play in one team.

"If this is the case then why the hell do they have four associations and four votes and their own vice-presidency?

"This will put into question all the privileges that the British associations have been given by the Congress in 1946."

And it’s exactly this sort of contradiction which worries the Football Association of Wales.

"There is a real fear that a decision like this could spell the end for Welsh international football," said FAW treasurer, Trefor Lloyd Hughes.

"There isn’t an option … as far as the Association is concerned ther answer is no!"