Great Britain plans to enter Olympic women’s soccer qualifying

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Great Britain hopes to qualify an Olympic women’s soccer team for the first time, potentially adding a medal threat to the Tokyo Games field.

Olympic soccer is problematic for Great Britain, given its individual nations of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland field separate teams in FIFA play.

But FIFA said Monday it received written confirmation from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland’s soccer federations confirming the intent for a Team GB in women’s soccer only.

Great Britain has entered soccer teams in one Olympics in the last 50 years — when it hosted at London 2012 and thus didn’t have to qualify — and last tried Olympic men’s qualifying for the 1972 Munich Games.

The top three European nations at the 2019 World Cup qualify for the Olympics.

Team GB’s hopes rest on England, which would have qualified for the Rio Games had a Team GB agreement been reached. It finished fourth at the 2015 World Cup and again made the semifinals of Euro 2017 and is ranked No. 3 in the world behind the U.S. and Germany.

The British women’s team — with all English players save two Scots — beat Brazil at London 2012 before falling to Canada in the quarterfinals.

The English women have since moved up from No. 9 in the world and introduced talents like defender Lucy Bronze (sixth in FIFA Player of the Year voting) and striker Jodie Taylor (Euro 2017 Golden Boot winner).

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