In the days after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi’s vile regime, I was genuinely revolted by a gruesome picture published by the BBC, a so-called ‘respectable’ news organisation.
That photo of Gareth Bale modelling a “Team GB London 2012” football shirt made me sick to my stomach.
Any Welsh, Northern Irish, or Scottish footballer who signs up for Team GB is putting his own interest ahead of his nation’s interests. They need to understand that whatever benefits may accrue from their participation in this unnecessary Olympic distraction are greatly outweighed by the risk, however small, of losing their national team.
The home nations’ situation in the world is unique. One government, four nations, four football teams. Most people in Europe don’t really understand it, never mind the rest of the world.
What the rest of the world does see, however, are three extra votes for the European block within FIFA. Three votes which the rest of the world would love to eliminate, because it would further erode European power inside global football’s governing body.
British participation in modern Olympic football opens the door for emerging nations to argue for a Team GB within FIFA. After all, if Wales can get a vote at the FIFA table, why not Patagonia? They have the same language and I’ll bet they like doing things to fluffy animals, too.
I can’t even see why Britain needs an Olympic football team. I don’t buy the argument that we need one because London is hosting the Olympics. Did China worry about winning the 100-metre gold in Beijing in 2008? Did Greece have a top marathon runner in Athens in 2004? As far as I can see, Team GB is a reward for David Beckham(™)’s efforts in securing the tournament in the first place, and another step towards his inevitable knighthood.
And what benefits are there for British players participating? In footballing terms, it’s a diddy tournament. It’s mostly for under-23s and played during the European pre-season, even during Champions League qualifiers for some teams. And like most Olympic sports, few people really care who wins or loses. (Ask yourself: who scored the winning goal in Greece in 2004? Answer at the end of this article.)
Sadly, it looks like Team GB can’t be stopped, but we can remove any vestige of legitimacy it claims to have by ensuring it is just Team England in disguise.
Vince Alm, Football Supporters Federation Cymru chairman, said to the BBC: “The players need to be made aware of it if they’ve got aspirations of Team GB. They need to be told what the consequences are if there is a Team GB.” He also said his fellow Welshman Bale was “ill-advised” to be photographed in the Olympic shirt.
To make sure no misguided Scottish footballers fall prey to similarly sick advice, Craig Levein should state the consequences of Olympian action.
He should say that anyone playing for Team GB could, quite literally, cost him his job down the road – so he won’t pick them for Scotland while he’s manager. The SFA should back him in this stance, and also state that if you play for Team GB, then you don’t care about the national team. And if you don’t care about the national team, then you won’t play for the national team.
Answer: I had to look it up, but Carlos Tevez scored the winning goal in Greece. Hardly a shining example of the Olympic credo, eh?
NOGB T-Shirt available from the Tartan Specials website.