altTHE British Olympic Association (BOA) are set to turn down the opportunity to play in next year's Olympic football tournament in Beijing even though the performance of England's Under-21 men at the European Championships has earned them the right to compete.


England's successful progress to the semi-finals of the European tournament in Holland means a British side is now entitled to one of the four places guaranteed by Uefa for European teams at the 2008 Olympics.


But because of a split between England and Northern Ireland and the rest of the British nations over the issue of an Olympic football team, the Football Association are to turn down the chance to enter a team in the under-23 tournament.


A spokesman for the BOA said: "Because of political issues involved in fielding a British men's football team at the Olympics it was decided that the priority was to find a way of fielding a team in the London Olympics in 2012."


A women's team from Britain could still represent the BOA in Beijing if England's team finish among the top three European nations at the World Cup, which starts in China in September.