Great Britain women's Olympic football team

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Great Britain
Shirt badge/Association crest
AssociationThe FA
CaptainSteph Houghton
Sophie Ingle
Kim Little
Most capsKim Little
Jill Scott (9)
Top scorerEllen White (6)
First colours
Second colours
First international
United Kingdom Great Britain 0–0 Sweden Sweden
(Middlesbrough, United Kingdom; 20 July 2012)
Biggest win
United Kingdom Great Britain 3–0 Cameroon Cameroon
(Cardiff, United Kingdom; 28 July 2012)
Biggest defeat
 Great Britain 0–2 Canada 
(Coventry, United Kingdom; 3 August 2012)
Olympic Games
Appearances2 (first in 2012)
Best resultQuarter-finals (2012, 2020)

The Great Britain women's Olympic football team (also known as Team GB; or occasionally Great Britain and Northern Ireland) represent the United Kingdom in the women's football tournament at the Olympic Games. Normally, no team represents the whole of the United Kingdom in women's football, as separate teams represent England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.[2]

Women's football was introduced to the Olympic Games in 1996, but Great Britain did not enter the football events at this time.[3] This changed when the 2012 Summer Olympics were hosted by London, as an Olympic football team was created to take the automatic qualifying place of the host nation. Following an agreement between the British Olympic Association (BOA) and The Football Association (FA), which operates the England team, the FA selected the British team, which could include players from across the United Kingdom. The team reached the quarter-finals, losing to Canada.[4]

FIFA stated that they would not allow entry of a British team in future Olympics unless all four Home Nations agreed. No agreement was reached ahead of the 2016 Summer Olympics, but a deal was formed for the 2020 tournament. Great Britain qualified for that tournament, as England secured one of the top three places among European teams at the 2019 World Cup.



When the Football Association (FA) was formed in 1863, its geographical remit was not clear: there was no specification of whether it covered just England, the entire UK or even the entire world. The question was answered when the Scottish Football Association (SFA) was founded in 1873. Football associations for Wales and Ireland (later Northern Ireland) were founded in 1876 and 1880 respectively. Football therefore developed with separate national teams representing each of the countries of the United Kingdom and no 'United Kingdom football association' was ever formed. A Great Britain Olympic football team was selected by the FA for men's Olympic football between 1908 and 1972, for amateur players, but the UK had stopped entering teams into the Olympic football tournament by the time of the first women's football competition in 1996 due to The FA abolishing the distinction between amateurism and professionalism in 1972.

London 2012[edit]

The Great Britain team before their first match in the Olympic tournament.

Due to London's successful bid for the 2012 Summer Olympics, the United Kingdom had the right to enter a team in the football tournament as host nation.[5] The British Olympic Association stated it would enter a football team,[6] but the Scottish Football Association (SFA) refused even to attend meetings at which the Home Nations were to discuss the possibility[7] and the Football Association of Wales withdrew from the negotiations.[8] In October 2007 the Irish Football Association (the association for Northern Ireland) also announced that they would not take part in a unified team, leaving the Football Association (England) as the only association willing to take part. It was reported that the other associations feared the loss of their privileged voting position within the International Football Association Board.[9][10]

As England had reached the quarter-finals of the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup, Great Britain had qualified for the 2008 Summer Olympics. They were unable to participate in the Games as the national football associations failed to reach an agreement,[11][12] and they were replaced in the tournament by Sweden. Nevertheless, the BOA decided that a women's team would compete in London 2012.

Following an initial announcement in May 2009 of a compromise, in which the FA would select a team of only English players to compete at London,[13] an FA statement in June 2011 claimed that after discussions with all British football associations and the BOA that they would enter a team selected from across the United Kingdom.[14] That announcement angered the other British football associations, who claimed not to have been consulted on the decision, but the SFA admitted that it would have no grounds for preventing Scottish players from competing in the team.[15] In November 2011 the Professional Footballers' Association warned the SFA, FAW and IFA against trying to "intimidate" players into not taking part.[16]

In June 2011 Arsenal Ladies striker Julie Fleeting, Scotland's record goalscorer, ruled herself out of contention. She concurred with the opinion of her father Jim—the SFA's director of football development—that participation may "jeopardise" the Scottish national team.[17] Fleeting's teammate for club and country Kim Little took the opposite view: "I don't see why anyone would want to stop a player from playing at a massive tournament like the Olympics, it's the biggest sporting event ever. If I get the opportunity I'll grab it with both hands – I would definitely play."[9] Fellow Scots Rachel Corsie and Jen Beattie also expressed interest,[18] as well as Everton's Welsh winger Gwennan Harries.[19]

In October 2011, England manager Hope Powell was appointed head coach of the women's team.[20] Powell began the process of selecting the squad by writing to all the players whom she wanted to consider for the team, offering them the opportunity to exclude themselves from consideration for the squad. It was confirmed in January 2012 that none of the players who had been contacted had asked to withdraw.[21] In June 2012 The Belfast Telegraph reported that three Northern Ireland players had been selected in the final squad.[22] One of the players concerned, Sunderland's Sarah McFadden, dismissed the report: "I haven't received anything about being in final squad... Wish it was true but unfortunately not."[23]


Team GB celebrating following victory against Brazil in their final group game

Great Britain were placed in Group E for the Olympic tournament prior to the draw, with their first two matches due to be played at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.[24] The draw was held on 24 April 2012 and added New Zealand, Cameroon and Brazil to Great Britain's group.[25] Two days after the draw, it was announced that Great Britain's single warm-up game prior to the start of the tournament would be against Sweden at the Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough on 20 July.[26]

The first ever game for the Great Britain women's Olympic football team was a behind closed doors training match win against South Africa, part of the preparations for the 2012 Summer Olympics. It took place in Birmingham, England on 15 July 2012.[27] The first official game was a goalless draw against Sweden on 20 July.

15 July 2012 Training match Great Britain  3–1  South Africa Birmingham, England
Report Attendance: 0 (behind closed doors)
Note: Unofficial match, no caps awarded
20 July 2012 Friendly Great Britain  0–0  Sweden Middlesbrough, England
16:00 BST (UTC+1) Report Stadium: Riverside Stadium
Referee: Florence Guillemin (France)
Group stage
Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts Qualification
1  Great Britain 3 3 0 0 5 0 +5 9 Qualified for the quarter-finals
2  Brazil 3 2 0 1 6 1 +5 6
3  New Zealand 3 1 0 2 3 3 0 3
4  Cameroon 3 0 0 3 1 11 −10 0
Source: IOC
25 July 2012 Group stage Great Britain  1–0  New Zealand Cardiff, Wales
16:00 BST (UTC+1) Houghton 64' Report Stadium: Millennium Stadium
Attendance: 24,445[28]
Referee: Kari Seitz (United States)
28 July 2012 Group stage Great Britain  3–0  Cameroon Cardiff, Wales
17:15 BST (UTC+1) Stoney 18'
J. Scott 23'
Houghton 82'
Report Stadium: Millennium Stadium
Attendance: 31,141[29]
Referee: Hong Eun-ah (South Korea)
31 July 2012 Group stage Great Britain  1–0  Brazil London, England
19:45 BST (UTC+1) Houghton 2' Report Stadium: Wembley Stadium
Attendance: 70,584[30]
Referee: Carol Anne Chenard (Canada)
Knockout stage

Rio 2016[edit]

After the team was eliminated from the 2012 Olympics, head coach Hope Powell expressed her wish that a team would be entered in future Olympic tournaments.[32] In June 2013, while giving evidence to the House of Lords' Olympic and Paralympic Legacy Committee, the Football Association indicated that they would be prepared to run women's teams at future Olympic tournaments subject to one of the home nations meeting the qualification criteria (i.e. being one of the top three European nations at the Women's World Cup).[33] However, following strong objections from the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish football associations, and a commitment from FIFA that they would not allow entry of a British team unless all four Home Nations agreed, the Football Association announced on 30 March 2015 that they would not seek entry into the 2016 Summer Olympics tournament.[34] The third-place finish England secured at the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup would have qualified Great Britain for the Olympics.[35]

Tokyo 2020[edit]

In June 2015, British Olympic Association chief Bill Sweeney announced a campaign to get the team reinstated for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.[36] In 2018, Baroness Campbell, the FA's Head of Women's Football, indicated that there was a willingness on the part of the other three Home Nations to allow the Football Association the opportunity to run a football team for the 2020 Olympics.[37] An agreement was reached between the four associations ahead of the 2020 Summer Olympics that the highest ranked of the four home nations would be nominated to compete for the Olympic place. As a consequence, although both England and Scotland qualified for the 2019 World Cup (which is used by UEFA as the qualifying tournament for the Summer Olympics), only England were eligible to compete for an Olympic qualifying place.[38] By reaching the semi-finals of the World Cup, England secured one of the three qualifying places allocated to UEFA.[39][40]

Having originally announced that England manager Phil Neville would be appointed manager of Team GB Women for the 2020 Summer Olympics following England's successful de facto qualification performance at the 2019 World Cup,[41] the FA announced in March 2021 that Hege Riise, who had been appointed caretaker manager of England following Neville's premature departure earlier in the year,[42] would be taking over the role.[43]


Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the games were postponed to the summer of 2021. However, their official name remained 2020 Summer Olympics.[44] Great Britain were placed in pot two for the group stage draw based on the FIFA seeding for England who qualified on behalf of Great Britain.[45] The team was drawn into Group E with host nation Japan, Canada and Chile.[46] They had originally arranged one friendly in Stoke against Zambia who were preparing to make their Olympic debut.[47] However, COVID-19 travel restrictions prevented them from entering the country and they were forced to withdraw.[48] While in Japan, Great Britain eventually managed to play a closed-doors training match a week prior to their opening group game, reportedly beating New Zealand 3–0 at the Todoroki Athletics Stadium on 14 July.[49]

1 July 2021 Friendly Great Britain  C–C  Zambia Stoke-on-Trent, England
19:15 BST (UTC+1) Stadium: Stoke City Ground
Note: Zambia withdrew as the United Kingdom's COVID-19 travel restrictions prevented them from entering the country.[48]
14 July 2021 Training match Great Britain  3–0  New Zealand Tokyo, Japan
Report Stadium: Todoroki Athletics Stadium
Attendance: 0 (behind closed doors)
Note: Unofficial match, no caps awarded
Group stage
Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts Qualification
1  Great Britain 3 2 1 0 4 1 +3 7 Advance to knockout stage
2  Canada 3 1 2 0 4 3 +1 5
3  Japan (H) 3 1 1 1 2 2 0 4
4  Chile 3 0 0 3 1 5 −4 0
Source: TOCOG and FIFA
(H) Hosts
21 July 2021 Group stage Great Britain  2–0  Chile Sapporo, Japan
16:30 JST (UTC+9) White 18', 73' Report Stadium: Sapporo Dome
Attendance: 0 (behind closed doors)
Referee: Salima Mukansanga (Rwanda)
24 July 2021 Group stage Japan  0–1  Great Britain Sapporo, Japan
19:30 JST (UTC+9) Report White 74' Stadium: Sapporo Dome
Attendance: 0 (behind closed doors)
Referee: Anastasia Pustovoitova (Russia)
27 July 2021 Group stage Canada  1–1  Great Britain Kashima, Japan
20:00 JST (UTC+9) Leon 55' Report Price 85' (o.g.) Stadium: Kashima Stadium
Attendance: 0 (behind closed doors)
Referee: Kateryna Monzul (Ukraine)
Knockout stage
30 July 2021 Quarter-final Great Britain  3–4 (a.e.t.)  Australia Kashima, Japan
18:00 JST (UTC+9) White 57', 66', 115' Report
Stadium: Kashima Stadium
Attendance: 0 (behind closed doors)
Referee: Salima Mukansanga (Rwanda)

Paris 2024[edit]

As with 2020, England (as the highest ranked home nation) were made responsible for Great Britain's qualification for the Olympics. Unlike 2020, European qualification was not based on the World Cup (in which England finished runners-up) but on the inaugural edition of the Nations League.[50][51] England and Scotland were drawn in the same Nations League group, which created a potential conflict of interest for the Scottish players.[52] On 20 September 2023, England manager Sarina Wiegman was announced as manager of Team GB assuming qualification for the tournament.[53] Team GB were eliminated from qualifying contention after England finished as runners-up to the Netherlands on goal difference in the Nations League group.[54]

Team image[edit]


The IOC governing body prohibits the use of any crests attributed to specific football associations or federations as they are seen to represent separate commercial interests rather than the nations. Where teams would normally use association crests they instead use the emblems of their respective national Olympic associations.[55] Great Britain women's Olympic football team wears the logo of Team GB. The crest features the head of a lion, a traditional animal in British heraldry that forms part of the Royal coat of arms. The lion's blue and red mane is stylised to create a Union Jack. Beneath the lion is the Team GB wordmark which was developed in 1996 as a way of better unifying British athletes from all sports under one clearly defined sporting brand.[56] Below the wordmark are the Olympic rings.


Both the 2012 and 2020 kits were supplied by Adidas, the licensed sportswear partners of Team GB since 1984. They are part of the larger collection of uniforms designed for British athletes across all sports for each individual Olympics.[57] Stella McCartney designed the 2012 range.[58] Adidas' in-house design team created the 2020 kits.[59]

  • London 2012
1st Colours
2nd Colours
  • Tokyo 2020
1st Colours
2nd Colours


2020 Olympics squad[edit]

Head coach: Norway Hege Riise

No. Pos. Player Date of birth (age) Caps Goals Club
1 1GK England Ellie Roebuck (1999-09-23)23 September 1999 (aged 21) 4 0 England Manchester City
13 1GK England Carly Telford (1987-07-07)7 July 1987 (aged 34) 0 0 England Chelsea
22 1GK England Sandy MacIver (1998-06-18)18 June 1998 (aged 23) 0 0 England Everton
2 2DF England Lucy Bronze (1991-10-28)28 October 1991 (aged 29) 4 0 England Manchester City
3 2DF England Demi Stokes (1991-12-12)12 December 1991 (aged 29) 3 0 England Manchester City
5 2DF England Steph Houghton (co-captain) (1988-04-23)23 April 1988 (aged 33) 8 3 England Manchester City
12 2DF England Rachel Daly (1991-12-06)6 December 1991 (aged 29) 4 0 United States Houston Dash
14 2DF England Millie Bright (1993-08-21)21 August 1993 (aged 27) 3 0 England Chelsea
16 2DF England Leah Williamson (1997-03-29)29 March 1997 (aged 24) 3 0 England Arsenal
21 2DF England Lotte Wubben-Moy (1999-01-11)11 January 1999 (aged 22) 0 0 England Arsenal
4 3MF England Keira Walsh (1997-04-08)8 April 1997 (aged 24) 3 0 England Manchester City
6 3MF Wales Sophie Ingle (co-captain) (1991-09-02)2 September 1991 (aged 29) 4 0 England Chelsea
8 3MF Scotland Kim Little (co-captain) (1990-06-29)29 June 1990 (aged 31) 9 0 England Arsenal
11 3MF Scotland Caroline Weir (1995-06-20)20 June 1995 (aged 26) 4 0 England Manchester City
18 3MF England Jill Scott (1987-02-02)2 February 1987 (aged 34) 9 1 England Manchester City
9 4FW England Ellen White (1989-05-09)9 May 1989 (aged 32) 8 6 England Manchester City
7 4FW England Nikita Parris (1994-03-10)10 March 1994 (aged 27) 4 0 England Arsenal
10 4FW England Fran Kirby (1993-06-29)29 June 1993 (aged 28) 2 0 England Chelsea
15 4FW England Lauren Hemp (2000-08-07)7 August 2000 (aged 20) 3 0 England Manchester City
17 4FW England Georgia Stanway (1999-01-03)3 January 1999 (aged 22) 4 0 England Manchester City
19 4FW England Niamh Charles (1999-06-21)21 June 1999 (aged 22) 0 0 England Chelsea
20 4FW England Ella Toone (1999-09-02)2 September 1999 (aged 21) 1 0 England Manchester United

Previous squads[edit]

London 2012

Managerial history[edit]

Statistics correct as of match played 30 July 2021

Image Manager Olympic games P W D L Win % Results
England Hope Powell 2012 5 3 1 1 060.00 London 2012 – Quarter-finals
Norway Hege Riise 2020 4 2 1 1 050.00 Tokyo 2020 – Quarter-finals


Most capped players[edit]

# Name Olympic games Caps Goals
1 Scotland Kim Little 2012, 2020 9 0
England Jill Scott 2012, 2020 9 1
3 England Steph Houghton 2012, 2020 8 3
England Ellen White 2012, 2020 8 6
5 England Eniola Aluko 2012 5 0
England Anita Asante 2012 5 0
England Karen Bardsley 2012 5 0
England Karen Carney 2012 5 0
England Alex Scott 2012 5 0
England Casey Stoney 2012 5 1
England Fara Williams 2012 5 0
England Rachel Yankey 2012 5 0

Bold names denote a player still playing or available for selection.

Top goalscorers[edit]

# Name Olympic games Caps Goals Average
1 England Ellen White (list) 2012, 2020 8 6 0.75
2 England Steph Houghton 2012, 2020 8 3 0.38
3 England Casey Stoney 2012 5 1 0.2
England Jill Scott 2012, 2020 9 1 0.11

Bold names denote a player still playing or available for selection.

Competitive record[edit]

Olympic Games[edit]

Summer Olympics record
Year Result Position Matches Wins Draws Losses GF GA
United States 1996 Did not enter
Australia 2000
Greece 2004
China 2008
United Kingdom 2012 Quarter-final 5th 4 3 0 1 5 2
Brazil 2016 Did not enter
Japan 2020 Quarter-final 7th 4 2 1 1 7 5
France 2024 Did not qualify
United States 2028 TBD
Australia 2032
Total 2/7 0 titles 8 5 1 2 12 7
*Red border colour denotes tournament was held on home soil.

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]