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Speed: Olympics down to players
Published : 11 Nov 2011 16:21:32
Manager Gary Speed rejected suggestions that he or the Football Association of Wales could attempt to "intimidate" Gareth Bale and captain Aaron Ramsey into making themselves unavailable for Team GB at next year's Olympics.
The build-up to Saturday's friendly against Norway at Cardiff City Stadium has been dominated by the appearance of the duo in promotional images for a Team GB supporters' kit.
The FAW do not want the players to play as they fear a British team featuring Welsh players would have a detrimental effect on Wales' standing as an individual association within FIFA, although the world governing body have assured them that would not be the case. But Speed bristled at suggestions the FAW would pressure their star players, saying: "It's their decision, I won't be intimidating anyone."
The former captain did say he had an empathy with Bale and Ramsey's desire to feature in a home Olympics, although he continually emphasised that he was directly behind the stance of his employers, saying: "The players' view is not at odds with the FAW. If you asked if they want Wales to continue as an individual nation they would say yes, so in that sense they are not at odds.
"It's only natural that they want to play as it is a fantastic tournament and occasion. My position and view on it means nothing, it doesn't matter. The FAW have made a stance and I say it is the right one for the future of the FAW, so my opinion doesn't matter.
"We want the FAW to be here in 120 years' time and that is paramount. That is the only stance we can take."
Captain Ramsey, meanwhile, insisted he had no regrets about appearing in the promotional images and hopes that he and Bale will get a good reception from the home fans when Wales go in search of a fourth win in five games, saying: "I don't regret what I was doing. Gareth and I are contracted to Adidas and it was a shoot for them.
"I spoke to Gareth about what happened, but it wasn't just that top that we had pictures taken in that day. There were a few others. We were promoting the shirts for them.
"My view hasn't changed. If it doesn't affect Wales' identity then I still want to play," he added. "I hope the fans are supportive. Whenever I put on a Welsh shirt I give 100 per cent. Gareth and Joe (Allen) are no different to me.
"We want to go out there and win. I'm a proud Welshman who gives his best every time so hopefully the fans will get behind us and we can get another good performance."