Burnham unhappy with 2012 situation

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The Government has entered the row over a British football team at the 2012 Olympics by insisting no player from any part of the UK should be prevented from being picked for the tournament.

Scottish FA president George Peat has claimed that he was privately advised by FIFA president Sepp Blatter that involvement in the Olympics would jeopardise their separate status. Peat's claim has been disputed by culture secretary Andy Burnham, who told the House of Commons on Monday that FIFA had already pledged that would not be the case.

Asked to agree that a Great Britain team at London 2012 would threaten the independence of the home nations, Burnham said: "I profoundly disagree - indeed FIFA's executive late last year passed a resolution specifically saying the independence of the four home nations' FAs would not be affected."

He added: "FIFA have resolutely confirmed their position.

"I understand that individually the home FAs may not want to be part of the machinery that creates a British team in 2012, but the BOA wants to put forward a British team that is the strongest possible.

"No sanctions should be applied against any young person who gets a call-up to represent their country on their home soil Olympics. To deny young people that opportunity would be an absolute crying shame."

The Scottish, Welsh and Irish associations are opposed to a British team taking part in the London Games but the Football Association are in favour.

Peat said Blatter's comments, made before this weekend's International Football Association Board meeting in Belfast, had convinced him the Scottish FA's position was right.

Peat said: "Mr Blatter told us at an informal function that, if we agreed to be part of Team GB, our position would be in jeopardy. My immediate reaction was one of surprise. I glanced over at the English table and their two guys, Lord Triesman and Sir David Richards, just looked at each other."

It is understood however that Richards, the Premier League chairman, took Blatter's comments to mean completely the opposite - that the four home nations' separate status could be affected if they had no involvement in the Olympics and the FA organised the team on their own.

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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