LONDON(AP) The head of England's Football Association said he is “very close” to reaching an agreement for Britain to enter a team for the 2012 Olympics, but the Scottish FA fears his public comments may have sabotaged any deal.
Attempts to put together a football team for the games have been hampered by reluctance from Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales due to concerns that participation could jeopardize their independence and voting rights within FIFA.
FIFA gave the four home associations until the end of May to come to an agreement and the quartet held talks earlier this month.
“I am happy to say that although the job is not 100 percent done, I'm very close to getting agreement with Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales to ensure we compete in the 2012 Olympics, both women's and men's teams,” FA chairman David Triesman said in Saturday's edition of The Guardian.
“I think it would have been extraordinary to have hosted a tournament as great as the Olympic Games and not to have competed, so I'm very pleased with the work we've been able to do and I hope within a day or two to be able to confirm that the whole of that is done.”
The timing of Triesman's comments has annoyed the Scottish and Irish FAs.
“We agreed on strict confidentiality and he's broken it,” SFA spokesman Rob Shorthouse said. “So what was a tough sell to our board on Tuesday has now become an even tougher sell. There is a real likelihood that the status quo will prevail.”
Shorthouse concedes that Scotland could put itself in an unfavorable position within FIFA by refusing to participate.
“There is a suggestion our intransigence and the whole Team GB debate is starting to really annoy people,” he said. “The worry is, by just saying 'No' all the time, we're doing ourselves a bit of damage internationally.
“We've also been trying to find out what the reaction would be if Team GB was just a one-off at London 2012 and it was made perfectly clear it was an English team.”
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown backs the idea of a British Olympic team and has suggested it could be coached by Alex Ferguson, a fellow Scot. However, the Manchester United manager has ruled out any possibility of taking charge of the team.