By Tom Degun at SportAccord in London 

Gareth_BaleApril 6 - Sport and Olympics Minister Hugh Robertson has stated that he wants to see non-English footballers, such as Gareth Bale (pictured) and Aaron Ramsey of Wales, permitted to represent Great Britain at the London 2012 Games so as to not be denied the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to compete in a home Olympics.

The Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish Associations insist they do not want any of their players involved in an Olympic team and that it should be English-only so as to protect their separate identities in world football.

However, Robertson has highlighted the fact that FIFA have given a "cast-iron guarantee" that selecting players from across the four home nations would not affect their separate status in world football.

"The whole point of an Olympics is to give young men and women the chance to compete for their country," Robertson said here at a special Olympic Question Time organised in County Hall by the UK Sports Journalists' Association.

"I would hate to see, just for political reasons, anyone denied that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to compete in a home Olympics.

"There is an absolute cast iron guarantee from FIFA that selection for Team GB will not put at risk home nation status.

"We will do everything we can to encourage the Home Nations to put their players forward but what happens if they don't, and players then take their own associations to court, remains to be seen."

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

Related stories
March 2011: British footballers should defy politicians and play at London 2012 says Friedel
March 2011: Andrew Warshaw - Irish, Scots and Welsh should shut up and just be part of Team GB at London 2012
March 2011: Exclusive - FIFA vice-president determined to find solution to Team GB London 2012 row
March 2011: Clubs to be consulted over player selection for GB Olympics football team
March 2011: Scotland's fear over Olympic football team "legitimate" says Coe