Exclusive: Sports Minister wants British football team at Olympics to continue
Wednesday, 15 August 2012
August 15 - Sport and Olympics Minister Hugh Robertson is refusing to give up on the possibility of Team GB being represented in future Olympic football tournaments despite the Football Association withdrawing its support for the idea, effectively killing it.
Robertson is to seek urgent talks with David Bernstein, the chairman of the English Football Association, after the organisation's general secretary, Alex Horne, admitted they do not want to risk the status of the four Home Nations by continuing with the combined side.
"I'm disappointed by the decision," Robertson told insidethegames.
"The Team GB [football] experiment has been a great success and added to London 2012 in a way that surprised even me.
"I know the British Olympic Association enjoyed having footballers in the Athletes' Village hugely."
The idea of having a united British football was controversial from the moment London were awarded the 2012 Olympics seven years ago and in the end it went ahead without the support of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Both the men and women's teams were knocked out in the quarter-finals.
But several of the members of Team GB, including Manchester United's Tom Cleverley, claimed that the event had been a valuable learning experience for them.
"I feel upset for Britain's young footballers that they may not get this opportunity again," said Robertson.
The decison not to support a future Team GB football team will impact more on the women, where the Olympics is the pinnacle of the sport.
Hope Powell's team were one of the hits of London 2012, beating Brazil before a record crowd of 70,584 at Wembley Stadium.
"There is no doubt the participation in the Olympics has given women's football a huge opportunity," said Robertson.
"It would be really silly to let politics get in the way of this.
"I shall be approaching the chairman of the FA to discuss it."