TEAM GB: THE ELEPHANT IN LORD COE'S ROOM

IBWM hasn't been able to move for Olympics stories this week. But what about the football team? Here's Natasha Henry.

No wonder Gareth Bale is looking even more confused than normal. The poor little monkey has to decide if he should jump at – what will undoubtedly be – his only chance to become a winner in an international football tournament. Should he win; he wouldn’t be waving the vibrant Welsh flag but the red, white and blue of Great Britain.

Last season’s PFA Player of the Year is just one of many players who will ponder the same question over the next few months. As yet, there is no confirmation over whether there will actually be a GB football team. Until a decision is made; managers, players and fans alike will discuss the pros and cons.

So while we all wait, the talking heads and rent-a-quotes continue to fill the air with their patriotic platitudes and bored sound bites. Aberdeen manager Craig Brown is someone who has been very vocal in his disapproval, not only ridiculing the idea but also suggesting it is all part of FIFA’s plan to turn the four votes Great Britain currently has into just one.

“The World Cup is the highest level and always will be. The Olympics are Mickey Mouse in comparison,” he said.

“We want the Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland [teams] to maintain their autonomy. Even a less successful Scotland or Wales team is more deserving of support in our countries than a combined GB team.”

It would be easy to lay the blame at FIFA’s expensive shoes but for a change this is not their fault. For a change! Olympic football is NOT a FIFA tournament, meaning clubs do not even have to release their over-23 players if they choose not to. According to research FIFA would have to attempt to change the long-standing rules of Association Football to force the four nations to compete as one from the 2012 onwards. For the first time in a long while, FIFA are completely innocent. 

Brown’s take on matters is in contrast to Celtic boss Neil Lennon who has stated he would not stand in the way of his players, should they wish to participate. Northern Ireland coach Nigel Worthington seems to agree with him.

Curiously most people feel and GB team would be predominately English, yet real consideration contradicts this. All being well the English team will be competing at the European Championships just prior to the Olympics. Regardless of how well they do, it is ludicrous to expect the likes of Sir Alex, Mr Wenger and King Kenny will allow their players to compete again so close to the start of the season. Thus opening the door to a lot of players outside of England’s top flight. It looks like more Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish players will get a chance than originally thought. 

All three FA’s have stated they do not wish to be involved but in truth there is not much they can do to stop their players playing. They are aware that any sort of banning order would result in a very public and embarrassing court case that they could never win. 

“It’s not just the question of reneging your nationality that bothers some. The Olympics should be about amateurs who have trained for years” said Scotland assistant coach, Peter Houston.

“When you start bringing in people who are earning up to hundreds of thousands every week that devalues it.

“A gold medal also won’t mean as much as a Champions League triumph or title success to a footballer.”

He may have had a point but the Rooney’s’ and Leopard’s of this world won’t be playing. A 20-year-old midfielder who plays in the Championship would appreciate an Olympic gold medal. Or a certain pair of Welsh midfielders whose country hasn’t qualified for a tournament since 1958. GB has an automatic place as the host nation and amateurs will not give them the greatest opportunity of winning a medal. Not when previous Games have featured players such as Carlos Tevez and Ballon d’Or winner, Lionel Messi.

It is understandable that the other three home nations are worried about the negative affect it will have on their respective teams.  But all the while, they are ignoring the positives. If GB were to win the football gold medal, they would have some international champions in their teams. The ‘winning mentality’ often referred to in sport could only be of benefit to them.

Their argument continues to weaken when you look at some of their most recent squads. Regularly consisting of players who only qualify for the country because the Grandmother once married a man who was born there.

Not to mention the fact that they don’t condone their players taking part but it is perfectly acceptable for their national stadiums to be used. Or maybe it is okay to use their stadiums because of the ‘benefits’ to the their respective FA’s and the travel and tourism boards. But, can they really have it both ways?

SPL player Kyle Hutton of Rangers sits in the pro camp.

“Obviously if the chance came along to be picked for Team GB it would be a great achievement for me. It is the whole event, everybody knows about it.”

To pit your GB Team against Chris Kamara's, and for the chance to win a trip to Brazil click here

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