Rio 2016 absence hits women's football hard

The FA’s decision to withdraw from competing in the Rio 2016 Women’s Football Olympics has been greeted with huge disappointment by all the British players.

It is a sad state of affairs that the political boardroom related to the International Football Association Board are actually behind a decision that deprives the players a chance to compete in one of the best competitions available to them.

Jim Boyce, the Fifa vice-president, had previously said that Great Britain would only be allowed compete if there was agreement from all home nations. It obviously did not happen with Scotland and Wales not agreeing to be part of Team GB.

Although there was talk of National teams being forced to play together in the future at the Euros and World Cups as the main reason for not agreeing to have another Team GB competing at the Olympics, it seems like the real reason is that the home nations do not want to lose their influence at the IFAB in terms of voting.

The role of the International Football Association Board (IFAB) is to discuss and decide upon proposed alterations to the Laws of the Game. FIFA and the UK-based associations (English, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish FAs) can propose matters to be discussed and ratified at the Annual General Meeting (AGM), which usually takes place in February or March.

FIFA has four votes on behalf of all its affiliated member associations. The other associations of the IFAB each have one vote. For a proposal to succeed, it must receive the support of at least three-quarters of those present and entitled to vote.

In Women’s football, the Olympics are classed as a major tournament as big as the World Cup where Wales’ Jessica Fishlock word. The Women’s tournament has no age restriction unlike the men’s, so the best teams always bring their best available squad, making it a competition as good as the World Cup.

Previous winners include USA, who have won five out of the six tournaments and Norway who won in Sydney 2000.

This withdrawal deprives the British women from competing at the top level of the game and also deprives players from Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland a chance to compete in a huge tournament, considering they have not managed to qualify for the Euros or the World Cup in recent history.

This sentiment has been echoed by Natasha Harding the Wales forward, who said “Being Welsh and maybe having an opportunity to represent Great Britain at an Olympics would’ve been a dream. Now that’s been taken away.”

The London 2012 tournament was a success for Team GB with a record 70,584 attending the Team GB v Brazil game at Wembley.

A year after the FA WSL launch, it was a great platform to promote women’s football but unfortunately the squad underperformed and was defeated in the quarter-finals by Canada with a two nil defeat.

The team was coached by the England manager Hope Powell and showed the usual England “no plan B”  failed gameplan. “The squad was comprised of 16 English and two Scottish players, while there were two English players, one Scottish and one Northern Irish player in the reserves. There were no Welsh players involved as Powell overlooked Jessica Fishlock who had been outstanding in the 2011 and early 2012 seasons.

It was certainly a missed opportunity for women’s football to develop its brand and the same would go on to happen a year later with the England team booted out of the Euros at the group stage.

We have to remember that Team GB would have needed England to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics by finishing in the top three European nation at the 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada. With Germany, France, Sweden, Norway, Netherlands, Switzerland and Spain in the mix, that is not an easy feat.

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