altTHE Scottish Government tonight stepped up its opposition to a British football team at the London Olympic Games in 2012, claiming a precedent exists for a Scotland international side to take part.


A team competing as "GB-Scotland" won bronze in the hockey at the London Games of 1908, according to SNP Olympics spokesman Pete Wishart.


A similar Scottish team entry also took part in the cycling at the 1912 Games in Stockholm and came fourth.

Wishart points to a special clause in the 1908 and 1912 Games' rules which permitted countries to submit four teams - allowing Scotland, Wales, Ireland and England to all enter football teams.

Scotland was even invited to compete in the 1908 Games, but the Scottish Football Association (SFA) declined on the grounds of expense, the SNP say.

Wishart said: "In 1908 the unique position of the Home Nations was recognised by the London Olympics and all four countries were invited to send a football team.


"That position should be recognised in 2012 with a revival of the practice for the London Games.

"If we are looking for a solution for London 2012, then let it be this one, and let's see the Scottish, Welsh, Northern Irish and English teams playing football with the rest of the world at London 2012."


But the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has since introduced strict eligibility restrictions and, under its Charter, only independent countries are allowed to take part in the Games.


Scotland's under-21 team actually qualified to represent Britain at the 1992 Olympics by virtue of their finishing position in that season's European Championships, the Games qualifying tournament, but declined the invitation.

The SFA fears if it took part in a united British team it could jeopardise Scotland's status as a separate football team at international level.


Former national team coach Craig Brown backed a campaign opposing the move, which is also opposed by the SNP-led Scottish Government, and the Welsh and Northern Ireland FA's.

But Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy has secured assurances from FIFA that Scotland's position would not be endangered if a British team was entered in 2012, a position the world governing body's ruling Executive Committee underlined at a meeting in Tokyo last week.