Exclusive: Welshman Robbie Savage backs united Team GB at London 2012
Friday, 04 May 2012
May 4 - Robbie Savage, one of Wales' most flamboyant footballers, has urged his national federation to support any players from his country who want to compete for Team GB at the London 2012 Olympics.
The Football Association of Wales (FAW), along with its counterparts in Scotland and Northern Ireland, have steadfastly refused to back the idea of an all-British side at the Olympics for fear it will jeopardise their independence within FIFA.
But Savage (pictured above, right, alongside FIFA general secretary Jérôme Valcke and Brazilian legend Ronaldo), who won 35 caps for Wales in a 10-year spell, says such attitudes are out-of-date and unfair.
"It's a fantastic opportunity to play against some of the best under 23 players in the world," said Savage, who recently participated in the Olympic football draw at Wembley Stadium in London.
"The federation should let them play."
Gareth Bale (pictured below), Tottenham Hotspur's gifted left-sided midfielder, and Manchester United icon Ryan Giggs are two Welsh names that have been linked with a place in Team GB, the latter as one of three overage players.
"If I was Gareth Bale I'd want to play," Savage told insidethegames.
"Ronaldo won an Olympic bronze and Messi won two golds so if it's good enough for them why is it not good enough for the Welsh FA?"
But Savage admits that without any Welsh players in the squad, Olympic organisers could struggle to sell out the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff which stages the Britain-Uruguay clash on August 1 along with two women's matches.
The remaining 1.4 million tickets for the Olympic football tournament have just gone on sale with organisers confident of an eventual sell-out.
But Savage said: "It'll be a big ask to sell out 75,000 for Great Britain in Cardiff when you can't always even get that for the Welsh national team.
"But if they can get quality players like Giggs – or maybe David Beckham – they may be able to sell enough tickets."
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March 2012: Let the players play, says FIFA's Valcke as he backs unified Team GB at London 2012
January 2012: Olympic football coach Pearce "saddened" by Team GB opposition
January 2012: Beckham and Giggs could reunite for Team GB at London 2012
November 2011: Wales fans aim anger over Olympic Team GB at Bale and Ramsey
November 2011: Ramsey highlights desire to play for Team GB by posing in BOA shirt