Argentina's Carlos Tevez scores the winning goal in the 2004 Olympic football final in front of a half-empty stadium

Football and the Olympics have not always been the most comfortable of bedfellows - just look at the final in Athens which kicked off at 1000am local time in front of a half-empty stadium.

There was undoubted talent on show, with three of the Argentina side that won the competition, Gabriel Heinze, Javier Mascherano and Carlos Tevez, who scored the winning goal, all Premier League-bound.

But that evening's athletics finals took precedent and the football was kicked to a time when most locals were breakfasting while fans of finallists Argentina and Paraguay were staving off sleep.

Perhaps spurred on by their South American rivals, five-times World Cup winners Brazil are going all-out to win their first Olympic football gold in Beijing.

In Olympic competition, players must be under 23 years of age, with three over-23 players allowed per squad, so Brazil have named Barcelona's Ronaldinho and Real Madrid's Robinho among their ageing stars.

And there are a host of other Premier League and international stars on show.

But what of Great Britain? Well, it's a bit complicated.

There will be no team in Beijing, but the British Olympic Association has stressed its intention to put a unified team out at the London 2012 Games.

However, there is a slight stumbling block in that only England's Football Association is currently backing the idea.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have opposed the plan, chiefly in fear that they could lose their special status given to them by the game's governing body, Fifa, in 1947.

And Fifa president Sepp Blatter, despite initially saying a British team would not harm a country's independent status, has since backtracked to suggest that the opposite could happen.

So it's all dead in the water then?

Well maybe not.

One possible solution is to hold a mini-qualifying tournament between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland with the winners going on to represent Britain in London.

Now, before you all start saying that's never going to happen, did you know the England national amateur side represented Britain and won two Olympic tournaments?

And along with Hungary, Britain are the only three-times winners of Olympic football gold.

Granted those GB victories came in 1900, 1908 and 1912 when the Olympics were in their infancy and for amateurs only.

Britain has not attempted to qualify for the Games since 1974 when the Football Association scrapped the distinction between professional and amateur players.

And some fans don't want to see a unified British returning to Olympic competition in London.

Where do you stand on the debate? Should Britain be represented in the 2012 Olympic football tournament?

Peter Scrivener is a BBC Sport Journalist. Our FAQs should answer any questions you have.


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