By Gary Anderson

March 20 - UK Sport's decsion to cut fundng for blind football has left The FA disappointed ©Getty Images England's Football Association has expressed its disappointment after it was confirmed by UK Sport it had withdrawn its funding of blind football, putting the British squad's participation at Rio 2016 in jeopardy. 

Blind football was one of seven Olympic and Paralympic sports, along with basketball, synchronised swimming, water polo, goalball, weightlifting and wheelchair fencing, to have their funding taken away by UK Sport last month.

All had appealed but only weightlifting was successful. 

UK Sport, which awards public and National Lottery money to Britain's elite sports, had originally allocated £1.3 million ($2.1 million/€1.6 million) to blind football for the four-year period leading up to Rio 2016.

UK Sport defended its decision, which has been reached using its "No Compromise" policy, by claiming it wants to "be able to invest in as many Olympic and Paralympic sports as possible but they must be able to credibly demonstrate medal winning potential."

Despite winning only two matches in regulation time at the past two Paralympics in Beijing and London, the FA's national manager for disability football, Jeff Davis claimed recent performances from the British side, including a win over European champions Spain, demonstrated the squad was making progress.

Team GB managed just one win at London 2012 ©Getty Images Team GB managed just one win at London 2012 ©Getty Images

"We're very disappointed to lose the UK Sport funding as we were only 310 days into a four year plan that would take us up to the Paralympics and Rio 2016," said Davis, speaking on behalf of the Great Britain Disability Football Association (GBDFA).

"UK Sport had given us £1.3 million ($2.1 million/€1.6 million) over the four year period and The FA matched that by making a £1 million ($1.7 million/€1.2 million) investment which meant we could put a world-class coaching programme in place for our squad with regular regional sessions for the players and full team training at St. George's Park.

"The FA is one of the world leaders when it comes to disability football provision so it's disappointing that we can no longer access the money given to us after London 2012 especially after our run of recent results which saw us beat Spain who are the current European champions.

"We'll now have to assess all available options that will help keep our coaching programme in place so that we can give the team the best chance possible to qualify for Rio."

Blind football and the five other sports who have had their funding withdrawn have until April 16 to launch a further appeal to Sports Resolutions UK.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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