Al­lardyce calls for Bri­tish foot­ball sides at next Games

Eng­land coach be­moans missed op­por­tu­nity BOA to meet FA in bid to en­ter teams for Tokyo

The Daily Telegraph - Total Football - - NEWS - By Ben Rumsby in Rio de Janeiro

Plans are afoot to res­ur­rect Great Bri­tain’s men’s and women’s foot­ball teams af­ter they were ac­cused of miss­ing out on the Olympic medal rush.

Eng­land man­ager Sam Al­lardyce backed the re­turn of the two sides at the next Games in Tokyo, say­ing he re­gret­ted their ab­sence from Rio 2016, while the chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Bri­tish Olympic As­so­ci­a­tion an­nounced he would meet with the Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion in an ef­fort to pre­vent a re­peat.

Lon­don 2012 in­cluded both men’s and women’s Bri­tish foot­ball teams on what was ini­tially planned to be a one-off ba­sis.

At­tempts to con­tinue the ex­er­cise in Rio – par­tic­u­larly for the women’s team – were ve­toed by the FAs of Scot­land, Wales and North­ern Ire­land over fears it could threaten their sta­tus as in­de­pen­dent na­tions within Fifa.

The scale of the op­por­tu­nity missed by Team GB was laid bare on Fri­day when the women’s Olympic foot­ball tour­na­ment was won by Swe­den, who qual­i­fied only af­ter Bri­tain did not take up the place they earned through Eng­land’s third-placed fin­ish at last year’s World Cup.

When asked if he re­gret­ted the ab­sence of Team GB foot­ball sides from the Games, Al­lardyce told the BBC: “I do per­son­ally, yes. I think it’s a fan­tas­tic venue, once ev­ery four years, and to turn it down is a great shame.”

He added: “When you see the de­light on Justin Rose’s face when he won the gold medal in golf, it shows what it all means. It’s some­thing we may look at in the fu­ture and try to com­pete in.”

Speak­ing at an end-of-Games press con­fer­ence in Rio, BOA chief ex­ec­u­tive Bill Sweeney said: “We are all des­per­ately dis­ap­pointed that there isn’t a foot­ball team for Team GB, pri­mar­ily the women’s be­cause they are so strong – had a great sea­son lead­ing up to this – but also on the men’s side as well.

“And we’ll be hav­ing meet­ings when we get back to try and sort that out with the FA.

“If you look at the suc­cess of women’s hockey here, to have had a sim­i­lar sort of story in foot­ball would have been ab­so­lutely fan­tas­tic.

“I think the ath­letes would have loved the en­vi­ron­ment and would have loved to have had the chance to per­form at their best in a coun­try like Brazil, which is so pas­sion­ate about foot­ball.”

Team GB’s record-break­ing ex­ploits in Rio have been in stark con­trast to the tra­vails of Eng­land’s men’s foot­ball team, whose Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship exit to Ice­land was one of the most hu­mil­i­at­ing re­sults in their his­tory.

Foot­ball is one of few sports not un­der the ju­ris­dic­tion of UK Sport, the elite fund­ing body re­spon­si­ble for Bri­tain’s Olympic suc­cess.

Prior to the Games, its chief ex­ec­u­tive, Liz Ni­choll, said she was will­ing to share its medal-win­ning ex­per­tise with the FA in a bid to trans­form the for­tunes of the Eng­land team but had yet to hear from the gov­ern­ing body.

Re­veal­ing the FA had now been in touch, “par­tic­u­larly in re­la­tion to women’s po­ten­tial suc­cess”, she said yes­ter­day: “We could win one more medal in Tokyo from a sport like foot­ball.

“If we had the GB women’s foot­ball team here, I have no doubt they would have also won a medal. It would be fan­tas­tic to have them on board in Tokyo.”

Re­it­er­at­ing her will­ing­ness to help other sports, Ni­choll added: “The model is quite sim­ple and we are very happy to share with other sports in the UK the ap­proach to in­vest­ment and strate­gic plan­ning.

“It al­ways starts with who are the ath­letes who can po­ten­tially de­liver medals. What is the strat­egy – and we call that the ‘ What it takes to win’ strat­egy – and then the bud­get that goes with that, what it costs to win. We have a tem­plate for strate­gic plan­ning for the way a sport might start to put to­gether its plan for sup­port­ing ath­letes to suc­ceed.

“There are things we can share with other sports and we will share with other sports, and I’d be happy to do so this cy­cle.”

‘If we had the GB women’s foot­ball team here, I have no doubt they would have won a medal’

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