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Sep 11, 2010

Great Britain football team to compete at Olympics

UEFA has given the green light for Great Britain and Northern Ireland to field an Under-23 football team for the first time in the Olympics, ESPNsoccernet can reveal.

High level talks will take place this week to finally decide whether England will go it alone or whether it will be a UK-branded team but, either way, an Olympic football team will be fielded for the first time.

Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales have indicated in the past that they do not want to be involved because of fears that their autonomy in world football will be compromised.

In the likely event that their opposition continues, the Team GB football team will be made up of English players, with an English boss leading them at the London Olympics.

An FA insider told ESPNsoccernet on Saturday: "UEFA have made the decision that the Olympic team will be Under-23 and there will be no over-age players.

"Ideally we would like Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales to participate and there will be talks and an open invitation. It would be lovely for us all to get together and unite.

"However we fully appreciate the fears that exist about the seeding process, about the International Board, about the other nations' participation in the major tournaments.

"FIFA and UEFA have given assurances they won't be affected, but we suspect that that won't be good enough. We have never had an Olympic team, but we will do now, even if it has to be England alone."

Who becomes the coach of the first ever Olympic team will cause much debate, and already there is discussion of offering a young English coach of potential what might even amount to a trial to succeed Fabio Capello, who has announced that he will retire after the 2012 European Championships, less than a month before the Olympics.

Roy Hodgson had been previously tipped to take the post of Team GB boss, but a younger manager like Steve Bruce - who this week declared his interest in succeeding Fabio Capello - may work alongside him.

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