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Brazil take an 11th-hour pop at Irish team

THERE are fresh fears for the position of the Irish Olympic women's bobsleigh team today after Brazil lodged a new challenge to the ruling that a 21st place should be added to the line up for the Vancouver Games.

Although FIFA sniggered at a suggestion that the Irish soccer team be included as the 33rd team in the World Cup, the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS) entertained pleas from Australia and now Brazil for an additional place to be allocated at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

The Irish team of Aoife Hoey (26) and Claire Bergin (24) were bumped up to 19th position after the Austrian team withdrew.

This meant that Japan was offered the vacant 20th spot as the top team in Asia.

But the CAS upheld the Australian appeal that their team should be entered under the wild-card ruling, where one slot is provided to Oceania and another for Asia.

However, another late legal challenge lodged by Brazil this morning throws the Irish team's position into jeopardy yet again.

The Brazilians mounted a different argument, saying that their team should have been included ahead of Ireland because it outpointed the Irish in qualifying.

Jack McGowran from the Olympic Council said that the team were hugely affected by the latest move.

"This is really impinging on their concentration. It's very upsetting and they're very worried," he said. "It's most unlikely that our team will be knocked out but we will naturally attend the hearing."

Today, Aoife Hoey, pilot of the bobsleigh team, has been selected as the Irish flag bearer, regardless of the outcome of the CAS.