Kelly Smith laments Rio snub for GB women's football team

Kelly Smith says it would be a shame if the Great Britain women's football team did not compete at the Rio Olympics.

The Football Association has said it is unlikely because qualification can only come from the Women's World Cup in 2015, in which home nations take part separately.

"That's a shame because you see the exposure we got at these Olympics," Arsenal striker Smith told the BBC.

Qualification for Rio 2016

  • Europe's top three nations at the Women's World Cup in 2015 will qualify for Rio
  • England were ranked third at the 2007 World Cup but their Beijing Olympics place was handed to Sweden

"I'm praying that in 2016 in Brazil there is a women's team."

The FA has already said that Great Britain will not send a men's team to the 2016 Olympics because they would need to qualify via the European Under-21 Championship.

However, Chelsea and England midfielder Frank Lampard revealed he would like to see a British football team compete in Rio.

He said: "I think 'why not?' I don't know the politics of it and how it works. But I thought it was very successful and that it would grow in time. It was our first year and I think if we go again next time we'll have more of a flow to us."

In the women's case, Britain would have to be one of the top three European teams at the Women's World Cup in 2015.

Both the men's and women's team qualified for London 2012 only because of their host status.

The desire within the FA, including manager Hope Powell and the players, is to compete in Rio, but unifying the homes nations for World Cup qualifying would signal the end for the chances of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to compete individually.

I've played in America for a number of years and the Americans view the Olympic experience as the ultimate, so why can't we have a GB team?

Kelly Smith

Those political issues come after the British women's team made a real impact at the London Olympics, despite being knocked out at the quarter-final stage by Canada.

A record British women's football crowd of 70,584 saw the host nation beat Brazil 1-0 at Wembley in their last group game.

And Smith, who is England's record goalscorer, wants women's football to build on that success.

The 33-year-old added: "We got a tremendous amount of exposure. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. To play in [front of] record crowds, to get people to come out and support women's football was fantastic.

"Hopefully now we can build on the momentum of that and see more crowds at women's football. I've played in four European Championship and two World Cups, so to add this now to my playing career, it's up there.

"I've played in America for a number of years and the Americans view that [the Olympic experience] as the ultimate, so why can't we have a GB team?"

British Olympic Association chief executive Andy Hunt showed his support for Team GB football in a tweet to Smith following her interview.

Hunt said on Twitter:   "Totally agree with your comments re: GB women's football at Rio 2016. It would just be wrong for the FA not to get behind this."

In a seperate tweet to Smith, he added: "We need the FA to grasp the importance of the legacy for women's football from Team GB and London 2012."

Smith will be aiming to help England qualify for the 2013 European Championship in Sweden when Powell's side take on Croatia at Walsall next month.