London 2012 Olympics: Incoming FA chairman looks to BOA to salvage Fifa relationship

London 2012 Olympics: Incoming FA chairman looks to BOA to salvage Fifa relationship
Looking up: David Bernstein could find ally in BOA  Photo: GETTY IMAGES

David Bernstein, the Football Association's incoming chairman, could find an unlikely bridge builder in the British Olympic Association as he tries to re-establish trust with the world football authority Fifa. 

The BOA is planning a series of meetings with the England FA and separate meetings with Fifa chairman Sepp Blatter in January to break the stalemate about fielding Great Britain men's and women's football teams for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
It is understood the issue - which stalled while England failed in its bid for the 2018 World Cup - is of enormous concern to the Minister for Sport Hugh Robertson.
Currently the four Home Nations are standing by an insider deal they struck in 2009 which allows England to take responsibility for the Olympic team. However such an agreement could expose the FA's to legal action by any disgruntled player and the BOA has refused to ratify such a deal. The BOA says the Olympic team must consider all qualified players from across Britain and Northern Ireland and the teams must be selected on merit.
''We would open ourselves up to legal challenges if the pool of players available for selection was England only,'' BOA chairman Lord Colin Moynihan has said.
Apart from the meetings with Bernstein, he BOA is seeking further clarification from Blatter about his promise that an Olympic team would not have any ramifications for the autonomy of the separate FA's within the structure of Fifa.
Insiders say that the trust between England and Fifa is at an all time low but that this issue, which Blatter also considers of important because of his elevated status within the Olympic Movement - could help re-establish a working relationship between England and the Zurich football headquarters.
However the BOA has to also encourage the other FA's to support a unified stance. The issue must be resolved before March because that is when London 2012 Olympic tickets are sold and there needs to be some certainty whether there will be Great Britain teams in the schedule. More than half a million tickets could be available for Team GB mens and womens football matches.
The Team GB womens team qualified for the Beijing Olympics but relinquished its spot when the impasse about FA soverignity couldn't be resolved in time.
BOA spokesman Darryl Seibel said: ''Clearly this will be a priority for us in 2011 and we will work tirelessly with the other organisations involved to resolve this as efficiently as possible.''