England get green light for Olympics

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FIFA have given the all-clear for exclusively English football teams to represent Great Britain at the London 2012 Olympics but are expected to decide this week only under-21 players will be involved.

The endorsement by the world governing body means the last major hurdle for an English-only Team GB has been cleared.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter said: "I'm happy because I have always said don't make a big story about this."

"You have to bring a Great Britain team for the 2012 Olympics in football, and as they are four associations, then take one association to be this team," he added.

"I said this at the very beginning and they did it. I am happy, they are happy, the IOC (International Olympic Committee) is happy, the organising committee is happy and I hope football is happy."

The four home nations had written to FIFA detailing their agreement for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to take no part in the Olympics - and therefore maintain their separate status in football - but allowing England to represent Team GB.

FIFA's Congress in Nassau this week is expected to scrap current rules where players in the men's Olympic tournament must be under 23, with each team allowed three over-age players.

Instead, the proposed new rule is players must be under 21, with no over-age players allowed.

Meanwhile, FIFA have also announced matches in the Europa League - formerly the UEFA Cup - next season will be played with two extra assistant referees behind the goal-lines as part of an experiment.

It means Everton, Aston Villa and Fulham will play their European matches with a total of five match officials, communicating via headsets.

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