KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: In a significant breakthrough for domestic women’s football, a Great Britain team will enter the qualifying competition for the Olympic Games football finals in Tokyo in 2020.
Until now the FAs of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales had resisted approaches from the Football Association in England to agree to a women’s Olympic team on the same grounds that they opposed a men’s team.
This opposition rested on concerns that the creation of a joint British team would ignite foreign protests that only a joint team should compete in the men’s World Cup and European Championship.
However, these fears have been assuaged partially by a more tranquil attitude on the issue within FIFA under the presidency of Gianni Infantino but also by the need to create an image of unity ahead of a British Isles bid to host the men’s centenary World Cup finals in 2030.
The possibility of a joint team in the 2020 Olympic men’s tournament was never on the table. Both men’s and women’s teams competed by special dispensation at London 2012 since Team GB had host rights to compete in the finals.
Confirmation of the women’s participation was included in a FIFA statement mainly concerned on decisions about the Women’s World Cup in France next year. The tournament serves as a European qualification window for Tokyo 2020.
The statement said:
FIFA 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 England will be the nominated country to seek a qualification slot for Tokyo 2020 at the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019. This agreement only applies for the women’s, and not the men’s, team.