Home nations on alert over status
Published 08/06/2015 | 17:26
England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should be on their guard against any threat to strip the home nations of their separate status, senior figures have warned.
There was a concerted effort in the 1970s and 80s by some nations to make home nations play as one united British team, and the developments at FIFA which will see a new president elected to replace Sepp Blatter has raised fresh concern.
Northern Ireland FA president Jim Shaw told Press Association Sport: "Any change has always got that potential, even if at the moment there is no evidence of a threat.
"We have twice gone through the Olympic issue - for London 2012 and then again earlier this year. The three Celtic nations, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, decided not to get involved in that because of the pressure we experienced in the 1970s and 80s."
Scottish FA chief executive Stewart Regan said the issue of pressure for one British team was a constant presence.
He said: "It has been under threat for the last 30 or 40 years. The fact of the matter is that we are independent football nations and we will continue to fight for that.
"It's always on the radar and has been for a long time, and we will continue to work with our colleagues at the FA, Wales and Ireland."
Regan said the historic value of the separate associations in FIFA and as part of law-making body the International FA Board had proved itself as a conservative force for good protecting the game.
He added: "The IFAB is one example where the British have proved they can operate a conservative approach to the laws of the game and have been very successful at that.
"The vice-presidency is another opportunity for British conservatism to influence FIFA and I have to say take it in a more appropriate direction. We have seen vice-presidents over the years who have come on and perhaps haven't been as vocal and as influential as they might have been.
"I think David Gill is a very different proposition - I think he's very influential. His involvement at Manchester United and UEFA has proven that he has got a lot of respect and essential power and having someone like him on the FIFA ExCo would be a positive move."