Team GB Not Meant to Be

Football Associations of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales are still contemplating whether they should allow their players to compete in the Olympics 2012 British football team.

This story should have ended a long time ago but the debate goes on as they resent letting their players play for a Great Britain team.

In all other sports at the Olympics, athletes are prepared to participate under the Great Britain team name. Great Britain has competed as a nation since the first Olympics in 1896. So why all the fuss?

Great Britain last entered a football team in the 1960 Olympics. Since then they have not registered a team until now. The English FA are prepared to join forces with their neighbouring bodies but the others are not so keen.

The Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish FAs feel that the English FA would have a major say in the team and that it would undermine their independence in FIFA.

The majority of the team would be made up of young Englishmen as they have a better pool of players. The manager – who is likely to be Stuart Pearce – should be allowed to choose a few players from the other British countries to make sure the squad is as strong as it could be.

Players such as Aaron Ramsey, Gareth Bale and Danny Wilson should be allowed to play if they want to. The experience of playing in an Olympics can only improve them as a player and even enhance the chances of their nations qualifying for the next set of major international tournaments.

They could line-up alongside players of the calibre of David Beckham, John Terry and Wayne Rooney as each squad are allowed to include three athletes over the age of 23.

FIFA had asked for a decision to be finalised by the end of May but no official agreement has been made.

Scottish Football Association chief executive Stewart Regan said: “We have consulted the Association of Tartan Army Supporters Clubs, our board and also members of the media and there is absolutely no appetite.”

The other non-English home nations seem to be following Scotland’s stance. The squad is likely to be made up of the current England Under-21 team if no agreement can be made. It would be pathetic if this were the case, as many fans would like the chance to support a British football team at the London Olympics.

Anthony Hay

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