Olympic chief calls for 2012 GB team unity

LONDON - British Olympic Association (BOA) chief executive Andrew Hunt said on Tuesday he was determined to have a British football team at the 2012 Olympics and called on critics of the plan to get on board. "Our position remains the same, we are absolutely committed to enter a team in both men's and women's football events and our position hasn't moved on that," he told Reuters. "Clearly what we don't want is sports administrators and politicians getting in the way of preventing people from competing. But it is challenging to get everybody aligned." Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe said recently that it was likely a British team would be made up entirely of English players because of opposition from the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland football associations. They are concerned that a combined British team would compromise their independent status. FIFA president Sepp Blatter has said a British team should only comprise English players to avoid problems in the future. "It would be great to have all home nations contribute players to a Team GB football team but ultimately we will respect the decision of the Home Nation FA if they choose not to engage with the process," Hunt, the chef de mission for Britain's team at the Vancouver Winter Olympics, said. "The Olympic Games is the greatest festival in sport and we would hope that all the best eligible players from across Great Britain and Northern Ireland will get the opportunity to play. "I'm very sensitive to their concerns and I really hope that FIFA have been clear in the past about giving them the reassurances that it won't affect their home nation status and that we can get agreements soon." Although the four British associations are recognised as separate entities by FIFA, the International Olympic Committee treats Britain only as an entity to compete in the Olympics. Britain has not entered a football team at the Olympics since 1960.