Robertson backs future Team GB football

Banbury Cake: Hugh Robertson Hugh Robertson

Olympics minister Hugh Robertson has called for Great Britain to field football teams at every future Games and not just regard London 2012 as a one-off.

Robertson, whose comments are likely to infuriate the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish FAs who are even opposed to Team GB at the London Olympics, says the 2012 Games should be used "as a launchpad" for British football teams at future Games.

Britain has not fielded a men's or women's football team at an Olympics since an amateur men's team played at the 1972 Games, and London 2012 had been viewed as a special occasion to allow the hosts to play.

Robertson told the Press Association: "I would always want to see Team GB put in a football team simply because it is a fantastic opportunity for a young man or woman to represent their country at an Olympic Games.

"I absolutely want to see us use this as a launchpad and have a Team GB football team at every single Games.

"I hope that as a result of having finally decided we can do this, we can get over the politics and it would be a really good legacy from London."

There are issues concerning Olympic qualification - currently the European under-21 championship is used as a qualifying tournament and England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland all play in it separately.

FIFA would have to agree to a Team GB taking up an Olympics place if, for example, England qualified. The Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) have given their backing to the idea, however.

PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor said: "I think that if it is done with consideration for the clubs and the schedules I think that is reasonable. I see no reason why it shouldn't happen. It's once every four years and is a good opportunity for young players to represent their country."

Neither the FA nor the Scottish FA would comment.

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