Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughInternational Friendlies Versus Olympic Football – The Battle to be More Pointless - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough International Friendlies Versus Olympic Football – The Battle to be More Pointless - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

International Friendlies Versus Olympic Football – The Battle to be More Pointless

It’s that time of the month again, the international break.  Loathed by club managers and, if you are not from one of the eight teams involved in the Euro 2012 play-offs, loathed by the fans.  The days of the game aren’t so bad, but the week before and week after seem to go on forever.  You know it’s an international break when you look on and are pleased to see the latest round of the Auto Windscreens Shield (it will never be the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy or JPT) or a batch of rearranged Scottish Division 3 fixtures on a Tuesday night.  Something to look at, or put a wee coupon on (unless you have spent the last three months in one of America’s states that ban gambling – damn you Tennessee).

In fairness, as international weeks go it has been a fairly newsworthy week.  Poppygate has seemingly been resolved, although it was amusing to see the situation had pretty much been sorted even before the FA’s white knight Prince William came dashing to the rescue just like he did for England’s 2018 World……oh hang on a minute.  Fabio’s missing his son’s wedding to see his team get schooled by the World champions and Scotland are scouring past plans B, C and D to find some players to make up for the mass Cypriot withdrawal.

However, there is one friendly that may provide a bit of intrigue this weekend.  At the Cardiff City Stadium on Saturday, Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey will set foot in a Welsh stadium for the first time since they were photographed in GB Olympic shirts.  A Welsh supporters’ group are planning a protest against Welsh involvement in the team but are they going to direct their ire at Bale and Ramsey themselves?  Manager Gary Speed has already explained to his players why the FAW don’t want Welsh players to play, but then comes the news the GB group games will be played at Old Trafford, Wembley and you’ve guessed it – the Millennium Stadium.  The FAW may have made their stance clear on Welsh involvement but there is a bit of a mixed message when GB rolls up to play a game in Cardiff on August 1st.

Yet, why do we even care about having a team in the Olympics?  It is a meaningless Under 23 tournament we have no recent history in.  Is it some overall justification for staging the Olympics in London that they put in a football team which seems to magically guarantee Mr England/GB ambassador David Beckham a place as an overage player in the squad?  Olympic football is like Olympic tennis – they shouldn’t exist.  The Olympics should be the pinnacle in your sport.  Would Andy Murray rather have a gold medal or the Wimbledon, U.S. Open, French Open or Australian Open trophy?  The gold medal wouldn’t even register.  The Olympics is about the sports everyone becomes a fan and expert on for two weeks every four years.

The London 2012 organisers should hope England flop at the Euros next summer so the fans need something like the GB team to cling onto and save their national pride.  Sir Alex has already expressed his view (in his own subtle way) about the problems of his players being at the Euros, Olympics and then to be ready for the start of the new season.  He won’t be alone.

Though you have to hand it to the London 2012 marketers who chose Bale and Ramsey to model the shirts; they obviously knew exactly what they were doing.  The Welsh reaction on Saturday may give an indication of the fans’ feeling.  But then again, it is Olympic football – do the vast majority even care?

Grant Fisken @gfisken16

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