By Alex Miller
at SportAccord, London
6 April 2011
Britain’s sports minister Hugh Robertson has urged the Welsh FA not to let politics deprive Gareth Bale of his ‘once in a lifetime opportunity’ to represent Great Britain at next year’s Olympics.
Earlier this year, the Football Association of Wales spelt out that they will oppose any moves by their players to be part of a Great Britain football side, fearing it could jeopardise the status of the home nations teams.
Scotland and Northern Ireland share the same opinion, meaning only English players at present will be considered for the team. (Although some Scottish players are considering legal action, as sportingintelligence reported here).
Robertson said: ‘Wales has a cast-iron guarantee from Fifa that the Great Britain team will not put at risk their home nations status. ‘It would be a travesty if a once in a lifetime opportunity was taken away because of politics. To see Team GB with great stars in the same shirts would be a great moment’.
Paul Deighton, chief executive of the Games organising committee, LOCOG, added: ‘Everybody in sport should want to see the best teams playing.’
Separately today, speaking at the Sportaccord conference in London, Robertson said he remains ‘open-minded’ about making sports doping a criminal offence.
Robertson receives expertise, intelligence and recommendations from the UK Anti-Doping Agency. If the organisation recommended the move he would consider it.
He said: ‘There are two main threats to sport – doping and corruption. Once the integrity in sport has gone, it is all lost. We will take a zero tolerance point of view during London 2012’.
David Howman, Secretary-General of the World Anti-Doping Agency has revealed the Mafia make more money from illegal steroids than heroin. He added: ‘The underworld is probably taking over world sport – it’s probably now interfering in 20 per cent of global sporting activity’.