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English FA rules out British men's team at Rio Olympics

MYT 12:00:03 AM

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain will not enter a men's football team for the Rio Olympic Games in 2016, English Football Association General Secretary Alex Horne said on Tuesday.

Britain returned to the Olympic finals this summer for the first time since 1960 in Rome.

Alex Horne, Secretary General of the Football Association of England, speaks during a news conference following an International Football Association Board (IFAB) special meeting at the Home of FIFA in Zurich July 5, 2012. REUTERS/Michael Buholzer
Alex Horne, Secretary General of the Football Association of England, speaks during a news conference following an International Football Association Board (IFAB) special meeting at the Home of FIFA in Zurich July 5, 2012. REUTERS/Michael Buholzer

It was also the first time since 1972, when they were eliminated in the qualifiers, that they had taken part in the event.

The issue is politically sensitive as the Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland FAs feel their participation threatens their individual status within FIFA, world soccer's governing body.

Wales players were included in Stuart Pearce's squad at London 2012 but there were no Scottish or Irish players involved and Horne told Sky Sports News no British men's team would be entered for the 2016 Games.

"The pinnacle is the World Championships (World Cup) and we've got the European Championships as well," he said.

"We play as England and we are proud to play as England and I know Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are proud to play as their own individual entities and we wouldn't want to do anything to risk that.

"FIFA accepted the position when we were hosting the Games and I think we take that and move on."

The British team, which included Manchester United's Welsh midfielder Ryan Giggs and Craig Bellamy also of Wales, reached the quarter-finals where they lost on penalties to South Korea.

The women's team entered the Olympics for the first time in London and also reached the last eight, but Horne said there was a possibility a women's team might be entered for the Rio qualifiers.

"We will keep talking to people about that," he said. "We are not ruling it out completely."

(Reporting by Mike Collett, editing by Mark Meadows)

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