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Olympics 2020 football: Why hasn't Team GB entered a men’s side?

The Team GB men's side celebrate at the 2012 Olympics
(Image credit: PA)

Great Britain will have a women’s football team competing at the Olympics this summer, but not a men’s side.

Hege Riise, who won gold for Norway in 2000, has selected a strong squad led by three captains – Steph Houghton, Sophie Ingle and Kim Little.

Four of the players, including Houghton and Little, have previous experience of the Olympics after reaching the quarter-finals nine years ago.

That was also the last time that Great Britain entered a men’s team, which was managed by former England international Stuart Pearce.

Before 2012, the Great Britain men’s team hadn’t competed at the Olympics for 52 years, when Norman Creek’s side went out at the group stage.

Team GB Olympics 2020 football squad: full women's team

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The team has a complex and somewhat contentious history, as the home nations (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) usually compete separately.

They each established their own football associations and national teams before the start of the modern Olympic movement.

As a result, there is a reluctance to bring the home nations together to compete as Great Britain for fear that it erodes their independence.

The football associations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all expressed major reservations about reviving the Great Britain men’s team for the London Olympics.

They eventually agreed to the idea of a team of English players competing as Great Britain and accepted that they couldn’t prevent their players from taking part if selected.

Ongoing concerns that FIFA could eventually force the home nations to field a unified men's team in all competitions prevented Great Britain's participation in Tokyo.

In 2012, after drawing with Senegal, then beating the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay to top their group, the Team GB men’s side lost to South Korea on penalties.

Neil Taylor, Joe Allen, Ryan Giggs, Aaron Ramsey and Craig Bellamy made up the Welsh contingent in Pearce’s squad.

The rest of the players were English, and included Jack Butland, Danny Rose, Micah Richards and Daniel Sturridge.