History will be made during the London 2012 Olympic Games as Team GB returns to the pitch in men’s Olympic football for the first time in 52 years, and competes in the women’s Olympic football tournament for the first time ever.
The landmark announcement is being made today by the British Olympic Association (BOA), which has reached an agreement with The Football Association (FA) that will enable Team GB to compete in both men’s and women’s football at home in London 2012.
The FA is the designated National Governing Body for Olympic football within the National Olympic Committee, where it represents the interests of the Football Associations from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
For the 2012 Olympic football competition, the British sides will be administered by The FA which will have responsibility for nominating the managers, players and support personnel to the BOA for final selection to Team GB. Consistent with requirements set out in the Olympic Charter, the selection criteria will be entirely non-discriminatory, as players from England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and other territories which fall under the BOA’s remit as an NOC, who meet the approved competitive standard will be eligible for consideration and selection.
The FA has consulted with its partner Associations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in developing the player-selection criteria and timeline. All four Associations have received a written assurance from the Secretary General of the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the international federation for football, that participation in the 2012 Olympic Football Tournament will in no way compromise their autonomy and independence for other FIFA-sanctioned tournaments, nor will it have any impact on their positions of leadership within the FIFA governance structure.
The men’s team will feature 18 players - 15 of whom will be Under 23 and three ‘open age’ players. The women’s team will also be comprised of 18 players, but there are no age restrictions.
An announcement of the managers for both Team GB sides will be made in due course.
The player evaluation and selection process will then begin in the autumn with the development of a ‘long list’ of potential players, as identified by the Team GB managers. Players on the long list will be asked to confirm their interest and availability to compete for Team GB, if selected, following discussions with their respective professional clubs and Home Associations.
As competition draws closer, the long list will be reduced to a short list of players, and an announcement of the two squads to be made in the summer of 2012.
The last time Team GB was represented in the men’s Olympic football competition was the 1960 Games in Rome, beating Taiwan 3-2, drawing 1-1 with Italy and losing 4-3 to Brazil, thereby failing to advance to the medal round. Team GB has never competed in the women’s Olympic football tournament.
Great Britain has won three medals – all gold – in Olympic competition: 1900 Paris, 1908 London and 1912 Stockholm.
For the London 2012 Olympic Games, the men’s football competition will feature 16 teams and the women’s tournament 12 teams. Preliminary round matches will begin on 25 July, two days before the Opening Ceremony of the Games, and conclude on 11 August.
Matches will be played in six venues throughout the United Kingdom:
City of Coventry Stadium in Coventry, England
Hampden Park in Glasgow, Scotland
Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales
Old Trafford in Manchester, England
St. James’ Park in Newcastle, England
Wembley Stadium in London, England
Medal round matches will be played as follows:
9 August – City of Coventry Stadium, women’s bronze medal match
9 August – Wembley Stadium, women’s gold medal match
10 August – Millennium Stadium, men’s bronze medal match
11 August – Wembley Stadium, men’s gold medal match
The exact dates, times and locations for matches featuring the Team GB men’s and women’s sides have not yet been set.
BOA Chief Executive and Team GB Chef de Mission Andy Hunt said:
“Seeing Team GB take to the pitch in 2012 will be one of the defining moments of the London Olympic Games. It would be unthinkable to host the Olympic Games in Great Britain, home of the world’s most knowledgeable and passionate football fans, and not have Team GB represented in both men’s and women’s football.
We are honoured to be working in close partnership with The FA, on behalf of all four Football Associations, to fulfil this historic opportunity. It has been a long, six-year journey to get to this point, with very real considerations from the Home Nations that first had to be recognised, respected and resolved.
We absolutely respect the participation of the Home Nations as individual nations at all other football events; 2012 is unique, we are hosting the Olympic Games and what has been achieved is fantastic for all those who love sport and love to watch great football. I want to express my appreciation to all four Football Associations for their recognition of just how meaningful it will be for Team GB to compete in football in London 2012.”
FA General Secretary Alex Horne said:
"We're delighted there will be football teams representing Team GB at the London 2012 Olympics.
It's important as the host nation, football plays its part in what is sure to be a fantastic spectacle.
We are pleased that the team will be selected from players across the home nations and I'd like to thank our counterparts at the Welsh, Irish and Scottish FAs for their understanding on what is a difficult issue.
We will look to confirm coaches of the men's and women's teams in due course to allow them to plan and prepare their squads for the games."