Britain will enter the first joint home nations football team in 52 years in next year’s London Olympics. While this will be a historic moment, the Scottish Football Association has concerns about the implications on the national league. Fans are also worried about what this will mean for the domestic sport.
Here, we explore some of the issues.
The Scottish FA’s reaction
The Scottish FA, as well as its Welsh and Northern Irish counterparts, believes that Team GB will have a negative effect on the domestic game. The English FA has taken charge in organising the British Olympic entry and this could mean that other governing bodies across the UK will be seen as subsidiaries of the FA by FIFA, rather than as independent associations.
This could potentially affect Scotland’s entries to tournaments organised by FIFA, such as the World Cup and next year’s Euros. In a joint statement, released in June this year, the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish football associations explained that their stance was “principally to protect the identity of each national association”.
Earlier this year Craig Brown was quoted by the Guardian saying that Team GB could jeopardise the Scottish Football League he added ‘I would rather lose as Scotland than win as Great Britain’. In October, during an interview with the BBC, Brown stated that players would be ‘selfish’ to accept team GB.
What the fans are saying?
The reactions of fans have been mixed. Fan site NoTeamGB.com was set up to oppose of the Olympic team. According to a press release by the collective, 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.”
Closer to home, the Tartan Army is dead against the joint side. Representative Hamish Husband made this comment to the Daily Record: “All Scottish fans should note that the existence of a Team GB and any Scottish players who join it could endanger our national team”
Despite this, the same publication has reported that the newly released Team GB kit, retailing at £52, is selling like hot cakes this side of the border.
What about the players?
While the politics goes on behind the scenes, players are looking at the reality of what it would mean to be able to play in an Olympic games. Glasgow City Women’s captain Rachel Corsie has stated that she would play for the female side, according to the BBC. She could potentially be joined by fellow Scottish players Jennifer Beattie and Kim Little.
Elsewhere in the UK
Players under other football associations are backing the event. David Beckham has stated he would be ‘honoured’ to play as an ‘over-ager’. Wales and Tottenham midfielder Gareth Bale got behind Team GB. He appears in the official photo shoot for the new kit.
Where it has worked
Other sports have successfully produced united British teams without a negative impact on national sides. Rugby is a good example of this. The British Lions regularly take part in international tours. Home nations teams are still fielded in the World Cup and Six Nations, while the Lions pit the best players from each against Rugby giants like the All Blacks.
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.