Stuart Pearce and Hope Powell will lead the British men's and women's football teams at the 2012 Olympics after their appointments were today announced by the Football Association. Great Britain will field a men's team in the Olympics for the first time since the Rome Games of 1960 and next year will be a debut appearance for the women's team. Both Pearce and Powell have the option to select players from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The other Home Nations have opposed the selection of their players over a fear it would erode their status as independent national associations. Pearce, the England U-21 manager and also a coach for Fabio Capello's senior side, said: "I am extremely proud to have this opportunity and I'm very much looking forward to getting started. I was fortunate to be part of EURO 96, so I know how special it can be to play for your country on home soil at a major tournament. I'm sure this group of players will relish being part of not only a huge tournament in this country, but a unique one competing together and representing the UK."
Powell, England women's head coach since 1998, has led her side to four successive major finals. She said: "The attendances at the games during EURO 2005 were a sign of progress for women's football in this country, and it helped provide a platform for what has happened since then. I'm delighted to be in the position to be able to take a team into such an illustrious tournament, I just wish it were starting tomorrow."
The FA was appointed in June by the British Olympic Association to oversee Team GB as the designated national governing body for Olympic football. FA chairman David Bernstein said: "I am delighted for both Hope and Stuart that they will lead us into next summer's Olympic football tournament. With their excellent track record and experience I am convinced we have chosen the best coaches for these positions."
Team GB chef de mission Andy Hunt said: "We welcome The FA's appointment of Hope Powell and Stuart Pearce - two managers who share experience of competing in major competition on home soil, as well as a great passion to proudly represent Team GB in the Olympic Games."
David Beckham has said many times he wants to play in the Olympics and it has been suggested he will be picked to help boost ticket sales. But Pearce warned he will only select players "on form and fitness". Pressed for an opinion on Beckham, Pearce added: "I've no idea. I've not seem him play recently - he's a bit old for the U-21s."