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
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’