Source AP ©

Soccer federations forbid Britain Olympic women's team to participate in Beijing Games

The Britain's team may miss the women's soccer tournament at next year's Beijing Olympics because of the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland federations who fear they could lose their independence.

Their objections are to be raised in Parliament on Tuesday with former Sports Minister Richard Caborn branding their action a national scandal.

The opportunity arose when England's team reached the quarterfinals of the World Cup in China for the first time in September, and FIFA said Britain could field a team as long as all the federations agreed.

But the Football Associations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all objected. While the three federations and England are recognized independently by FIFA, they can't enter the Olympics individually because, under IOC rules, they come under a combined Britain team.

The three federations argued that, if Britain was allowed to enter a soccer team in the Olympics, it weakened their case to be treated separately by FIFA and UEFA.

Caborn said that their decision had prevented the English players making a rare appearance at the Olympics.

"I'm going to raise this because I think it is a national scandal," Caborn said Monday. "They have been denied this fantastic opportunity to perform on the Olympic stage solely because of the self-interest of three governing bodies.

"FIFA were happy for it either to be an English team or with representatives from other associations, so long as everyone is in agreement. So these people have not only denied English athletes this opportunity, they have also done this to their own women footballers.

"That these nearly all-male organizations can deny their women footballers the chance to play in the Olympics is beyond belief."