The Football Associations of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have given their blessing for a British women’s team to be created with a view to competing at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
FIFA confirmed has now received written confirmation from the four British associations, confirming their intention to allow a British women’s team to try to qualify for the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament Tokyo 2020, and that the Lionesses will be the nominated country to seek a qualification slot for Tokyo 2020 at the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019.
A men’s and women’s side last competed in the London 2012 Olympic Games for the first time since 1972. The English FA were seeking to put a team into the Rio 2016 Olympics, but this was vetoed by the Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish associations. This was due to their concerns that the independence of each national side might be risked meant it was only the English FA pushing for Great Britain to be represented in Brazil when all four needed to be in agreement.
Jonathan Ford, Football Association of Wales (FAW) chief executive, told BBC Sport Wales in August that the FAW would not align themselves “politically” with GB women’s team at the Olympics, but that it understood the benefits of having one.
He said “The Welsh fans like the Welsh team and we don’t want to ever give that up. Of course, there is an element of politics at play here, but we understand, especially for the women’s game, there is some benefit in our women having some competition experience and the Olympics provides that.
“Politically we are not going to align ourselves with it, but we are not going to stop our players.”
The England manager at that point was Mark Sampson, he believed that a women’s Team GB side could have won gold. He said: “There’s not many people on this planet who are Olympians and this group of players did earn the right to go to an Olympics and compete and represent themselves and their country and their family and friends but it’s been taken away from them.
“I think the most frustrating thing is that not only have they not been given the opportunity to become Olympians but I’ve watched the tournament and I believe this team would have won the gold medal.”
I agreed with those sentiments. It would have been great to see the likes of Helen Ward, Lucy Bronze and Joanne Love lining up together against the best sides in the world. We would love to hear who you think would be in your Team GB starting eleven based if it happened tomorrow. Being a Manchester United fan, I would be flying the flag for Casey Stoney to return and manage the side, after originally captaining the London 2012 side.