Do you really care about Team GB?

by Mystical Mike

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Team GB: The facts

The London Olympics will be the first time in 52 years that Great Britain has fielded a football team in the games.  Team GB plans to enter both male and female teams to play on home turf next year.  While this will be an exciting and historical moment in British sport, it has caused a great deal of controversy among the organisers, fans and players.  Here GetMeIn explores some of the issues.

Separate nations

The Welsh, Scottish and Irish football associations are worried that Team GB will affect how they are seen by FIFA. With the English FA taking in the lead in the formation of Team GB’s football squad, the other home nations are worried this will affect their independence in FIFA organised tournaments, such as the World Cup and next year’s Euros. In a joint statement, released in June, they explained this that stance was “principally to protect the identity of each national association”.

The FA claims that an ‘historic agreement’ was made to allow players from each team to play.  However the joint statement said that no such agreement had taken place. Obviously this has had an implication for players and Wales captain Aaron Ramsay has tweeted: “Relax everyone, there is no way I would play if it was going to affect Wales’s identity as an individual nation!” in an attempt to reassure fans.

Age limit

As the 2012 Euros are also next year Fifa planned to exclude all players over the age of 21 from competing. This way they hoped to avoid clashes between the two major tournaments.

The International Olympic Committee was against this restriction and set the upper age limit at 23. The committee has allowed each team to field up to three ‘over age’ players. This means that while many of Britain’s footballing legends will be excluded, some stars, such as David Beckham, might be able to represent Great Britain next summer.

What do the fans think?

With all of the politics surrounding this event, it’s easy to overlook what the fans think about the British team. Some Welsh, Scottish and Irish fans are as against Team GB as their football association. Fansite  was set up in opposition of the Olympic team. It has released an array of anti-Olympic press releases.

These fans feel that “such a move toward a joint team could severely jeopardise the independent status of the four Home Associations. All four associations have a proud tradition of very long standing which fans
from the four countries wish to retain and any move toward a joint team is seen a major threat to this status.”

Prominent Sky broadcaster Jeff Stelling is also set against the event. He told the Independent that an Olympic football was ‘nonsensical’ and believes the Games should stick to track and field events.

It’s not all bad news

While this is going on behind the scenes, players such as David Beckham are getting behind the event. Beckham has already mentioned that he would be ‘honoured’ to be asked to play as an ‘over-ager’. Wales and Tottenham star Gareth Bale has also given team GB his support, posing for a photo shoot in the official kit.

If it’s alright for them…

Football isn’t the only sport to consider the implications of mixing up home nations teams. Other sports have done it successfully. Rugby is probably the best example of this with the British Lions taking part in international tours regularly. The Lions often play rugby powerhouses such as South Africa and New Zealand, while the home nations are kept separate for tournaments such as the World Cup and Six Nations.

Cricket also sees a joint effort between the Home Nations. The England cricket team is actually representative of England and Wales. The only Welsh county cricket team, Glamorgan, often provides Welsh players with a platform from which to launch their England cricket career.

Player announcements for the two Olympic GB football teams will be made in 2012.  Keep watching the domestic football league and Champions League this season to make your predictions for the football stars of the Games in the meantime.

To see how a British team should be, visit for cricket, rugby tickets and other sports tickets.

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