Britain’s new FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce has admitted that top young players such as Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey will have the legal right to be considered for the British Olympic team at the London 2012 Games.
A deal has been struck by the four home associations for the team to be made up of English players only, but that is being challenged by the British Olympic Association (BOA).
The men’s team will be made up of Under-23s and Bale and Ramsey, Wales midfielders for Tottenham and Arsenal respectively, would be among the first names on the team-sheet for an all-British side.
And Boyce admits that, in strict legal terms, no player from Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland can be prevented from playing.
Boyce, who takes over as FIFA vice-president in June, said: “If a young player wants to be selected then legally I don’t see how he could be prevented from playing. I just hope it won’t come to that.”
The former Irish FA president is hoping to find a solution and sympathises with the associations who fear their separate status with FIFA will be threatened if they play as Great Britain. Boyce has offered to try to secure extra assurances from FIFA that this will not be the case.
He added: “I understand that the Olympics is the pinnacle of an athletes’ career, but I also understand the way the associations feel. Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales have made it clear they do not want their players to be involved.