It will be unlikely that Team GB’s soccer team will compete in the 2016 Olympic Games, according to FA secretary Alex Horne.
Due to the popularity of the 2012 Olympic Games, people are now starting to look forward to the 2016 Rio Games in Brazil, a future which doesn’t look bright for British soccer. Alex Horne, the general secretary of the FA, believes that because of the risk of jeopardizing the footballing independence of the four home nations, seeing a GB football team participating will be unlikely.
“Within the men’s game, it’s not going to happen again. On the women’s side, I’m going to say it’s unlikely for the same reason. But you can understand why it’s more compelling. Olympic football for women is the pinnacle,” Horne told The Times.
The future looks slightly brighter for the women’s football team. Andy Hunt, Team GB’s chef de mission, said that he would love to see the women’s team participate at a future games, hopefully Rio 2016. However, his support for the men’s team isn’t as strong as for the women.
“For the men’s team, discussions will take place between myself and the FA in the next few months,” Hunt said. “But certainly for women’s football, I would love them to go on.”
It was due to the massive success of the London 2012 Olympic bid that Great Britain even gained the right to enter a soccer team as the host nation. The British Olympic Association (BOA) indicated that it would enter a soccer team. However, the Scottish Football Association (SFA) refused to even attend the meetings with the Home Nations and the Football Association of Wales (FAW) withdrew from the negotiations. In 2007 the Irish Football Association stated that it as well would not take part in the unification of a British team, which then left the English Football Association alone. The reason why the SFA didn’t want to participate was due to the fear that the Home Nations would have to stay as a combined football team after the Olympics and for future competitions.
Many sports people, fans and even politicians gave their opinion on their support to the creation of a combined team. Dai Greene, the world 400m hurdles champion, expressed his opinion that there should not be an Olympic soccer tournament because the Olympics is not all about soccer. He feared that the coverage of the soccer team would overshadow the interest in the other sports.
After London had won the bid to host the Games, the BOA published an opinion poll that claimed the majority of Scots actually supported the creation of a British team for the Games. Furthermore, politicians such as Prime Minister Gordon Brown stated during the 2008 Olympics that he wanted a British team for the 2012 Games and that he would do whatever it took to make that happen, although he recognized that it could affect the autonomy of the Home Nations.
Despite all the negative discussions about the jeopardy of the Home Nations, FIFA President Sepp Blatter assured each of the British Associations that their international football status would not be affected by fielding a combined team for London 2012. However, the SFA still refused to change its position, argued that the FIFA President’s own opinion would not matter once he had left office, and that they would not take the risk. Controversially, President Blatter changed his mind in March 2008, stating that he believed that Team GB should only consist of English players, as the independent status of the British associations could be harmed if there was a team with combined players.