Fifa urged to investigate Team GB row

FIFA has been urged to investigate allegations of "political interference" in the row over football's Team GB for the 2012 London Olympics.

If Fifa finds Scotland and the other three home associations guilty, it could suspend or even expel them from international competition until the governmental interference stops, as recently happened with the Polish FA.

The Scottish National Party urged an inquiry after 18 mainly Scottish Labour MPs signed an early day motion welcoming assurances given to Jim Murphy, the Scottish Secretary, by Fifa saying that a Team GB would not undermine Scotland's ability to compete in its own right in future tournaments.

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Pete Wishart MP, SNP spokesperson at Westminster, said: "Fifa's statutes are clear: they do not allow political intervention from governments. But the Labour Government at Westminster is playing politics with the people's game by trying to force through a British Olympic football team with no regard for the views of the Scotland, Wales and N Ireland football authorities or the fans of all four home nations, who are united in their opposition to this daft and dangerous idea.

"Fifa should launch an investigation into the interference of the British Government, including the activities of Jim Murphy. The Scottish Football Association and the Tartan Army have made their opposition to an under-23 British football team at London 2012 because of the unacceptable risk to our status as an independent football nation."

Fifa has a strong policy against political interference in any football activity and has suspended more than 20 national associations in recent years after governments tried to dictate their policies.

In at least one case, the suspension followed MPs raising questions about the conduct of their national association.

The Scottish Football Association (SFA) said last night that it would "go along with and co-operate with" any Fifa inquiry.

A spokesman added: "All along we have not wanted this matter to become a political party debate.

"This is a footballing decision which should be taken by football people."

Scotland on Sunday has learned that top-level discussions took place within Hampden Park last week after news of the early day motion broke.

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The significance of the motion was realised immediately, and the SFA's fears that the whole issue would blow up and become a party political matter have been realised.

An SFA insider said the association was "appalled" at the developments of last week, and now feared that other countries within Fifa would start asking questions about the special status afforded to the four home associations.

The source said: "This is what we feared all along. People really should be very careful with what they are doing on this issue as it could backfire on everyone."

Tartan Army members are already conducting a letter and e-mail campaign against Murphy and those MPs who signed the motion.

David Mundell, shadow secretary of state, is the only non-Labour MP to have signed so far.

It has also emerged that last year, Fifa president Sepp Blatter stated that a Team GB could even threaten the existence of the Scottish Premier League and Scottish Football League.

Quoted on Fifa's own website, Blatter said: "Definitely, when London hosts the Olympics, the women's and men's team will automatically qualify to play, but they will play under the nomination of Great Britain."

He added: "It doesn't matter to us if they decide to enter as one team, but then they would lose all their current privileges. There would be no Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish national teams and leagues.

"Can you imagine what British football would look like?"

A Scotland Office spokesman said: "Ministers regularly meet representatives of football associations. It is a shame that the SNP want to make a party political issue out of football."