The possibility of a Great Britain team entering the football competition in the
The possibility of a Great Britain team entering the football competition in the 2012 Olympics moved a step closer yesterday...
FIFA President and member of the International Olympic Committee, Sepp Blatter said yesterday: "If the Games are staged in London [in 2012], it would be good to have a British team.
"One way around the problem is if there was a mini qualifying tournament between the four (associations) with the winners taking part in the finals as Britain, whether it was the English, Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish team. That would not be a problem for FIFA."
Blatter also moved to ease fears that involvement in the Olympics could lead to pressure from other countries for the British Isles to take part as one unified team in other, more senior, tournaments.
Blatter said, however: "The rights of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales to compete as four separate countries are to be enshrined in a new FIFA statute in 2004.
"There will no longer be any threat or objections to the four British associations, something that in the past has come around every few years.
Britain won the first Olympic soccer tournament in 1900, when football was just a "demonstration" sport, but claimed gold medals in both the first two official tournaments in 1908 and 1912.
Great Britain entered the qualifying competition for the 1968 tournament in Mexico, beating West Germany in the first round but losing to Spain in the second.
Great Britain entered for the last time for the West Germany tournament of 1972 and were drawn against Bulgaria in the first qualifying round. The Bulgarians played virtually their full World Cup side (they were all officially amateurs) but the British side beat them 1-0 in the first leg at Wembley before losing the second leg in Sofia 5-0.
The FA 's Head of Media Relations Adrian Bevington said: "We have stated publicly many times in recent years that we will always be happy to discuss proposals for a Great Britain team taking part in the Olympics.
"However, this is not a decision entirely in the hands of the English FA. We must also reach agreement with the three other respective associations - so long as it did not impact on the status of the England team competing in international football tournaments."