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Will Team GB have men’s and women’s football teams at the 2020 Olympics?

14:32 BST 06/07/2019
Ryan Giggs Team GB 2012 Olympics
With the Tokyo games only a year away, talk has already begun of Great Britain's entry following mixed fortunes at London 2012

When the Great Britain women’s side lined up to face New Zealand in their opening match at London 2012, it was the first time a British side of any kind had taken part in the tournament in 52 years.

They won 1-0 thanks to a superb free kick from then 24-year-old Steph Houghton, while the men’s side drew 1-1 with Senegal the following day with Craig Bellamy on the scoresheet. Both teams were eventually knocked out in their respective quarter-finals.

Professionalisation, qualifying complications and a lack of agreement between the various Football Associations have generally prevented Team GB from taking part , and no agreement was reached for Rio 2016.

With Tokyo 2020 only a year away, though, Team GB’s women have confirmed their qualification – thanks to England’s exploits at the Women’s World Cup.

An agreement had been reached in October 2018 that a team would be entered if qualification was secured, but that was far from being nailed on.

To do so, England had to finish as one of the top three European sides at this year’s tournament in France.

With the hosts and big guns Germany looking strong as well as the ever-improving Dutch and resurgent Scandinavian sides in Norway and Sweden, the Lionesses faced a tough ask.

In fact, World Cup holders the USA were the only non-European side left in the draw ahead of the quarter-finals. Eventually, though, their defeat of France and England’s win over Norway meant Olympic qualification was secure.

Japan, Brazil, New Zealand, the Netherlands and Sweden’s places at the tournament are all confirmed, with six spots still to be filled.

What shape the British squad will take is as yet unclear, though it is likely to be coached by England boss Phil Neville and feature predominantly English players.

However the likes of Welsh midfielder Jess Fishlock, Northern Ireland’s Rachel Furness or Scotland’s Jen Beattie, Kim Little or Erin Cuthbert should also be in contention, while form in the 2019-20 season will clearly play a part in thinking.

With plenty of players from the other British regions plying their trade in the Women's Super League and abroad, there is still time for them to stake a claim. Knocking Neville’s Lionesses out of his preferred squad may, however, prove tricky.

But despite somewhat nostalgic memories of Stuart Pearce’s England-Wales hybrid eleven being dumped out in vaguely embarrassing fashion on home soil by South Korea, there will be no reunion of the men’s side in Japan next year.

Daniel Sturridge’s crucial missed penalty in that shoot-out defeat could well prove to be the last kick ever made in anger by a British man at an Olympic football tournament.

An agreement between the various FAs was never reached, although they wouldn’t have qualified anyway.

The European places were given to the top four sides at the recent European Under-21 Championships, where Aidy Boothroyd’s side went out in the group stage .

The four spots instead went to Spain, Germany, France and Romania, with hosts Japan the only other confirmed entrants so far. Eleven other spots are still yet to be filled.

Running from July 22 to August 8, the tournaments will take place around Japan. As well as main host city Tokyo, matches will be held in Kashima, Saitama, Sapporo, Sendai and Yokohama.