Exclusive: British Olympic football team "very close" claims BOA chief executive

Saturday, 18 June 2011
By David Owen

Aaron_Ramsey_celebrates_goal_for_WalesJune 18 - The British Olympic Association (BOA) believes it is closer than ever before to establishing ground-rules paving the way for non-English football stars such as Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey (pictured) to represent Britain at London 2012.

Interviewed in London, Andy Hunt, the BOA's chief executive, told insidethegames: "I have been at this for over two years.

"I am incredibly positive that we will get to an outcome where we will field a men's and a women's football team.

"We have got some final things to resolve...but I am incredibly positive.

"More positive than I have ever been before when asked that question."

The appearance of genuinely British football teams at the London Olympics promises to be one of the out-and-out highlights of the Games.

However, it is dependent on the four Home Nations allowing their players to take part, if selected and if they wish to do so.

The Football Associations of Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland - anxious about their future independence to enter national teams for competitions such as the European Championships and the World Cup - have resisted calls to let their players turn out for Team GB.

But pressure has been mounting for them to change tack, with Wales captain Ramsey last month joining international team-mate Bale in stating publicly that he wants to represent Britain in next year's Olympic tournament.

Jack_Wilshere_playing_for_England_v_Holland
Were he to do so, it could be the one and only time that Ramsey plays international football alongside England's Jack Wilshere (pictured), another young Arsenal midfield-player of immense potential.

If ground-rules on selection cannot be agreed, it could lead to the embarrassment of a 2012 Olympic football tournament without British teams – a scenario likely to be a severe disappointment to many fans.

"Any policy that is discriminatory would be in breach of the Olympic Charter, it's as simple as that," Hunt said.

"That's why it was never acceptable to us to have a selection policy that may have only been for English players."

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