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Posted by Douglas Cameron on 06/20/2011

Once again the debate around whether there should be a “British” football team at the Olympics has raised its ugly head this week. Trevor Brooking thinks Stuart Pearce should get the gig as he knows the lads and David Beckham thinks it would be the perfect retirement party on the basis that "I'm an East End lad and being English born and bred, it would be something I'd be very honoured to be part of".

The case for has in recent times been put forward by a veritable rogues gallery including Lord Sebastian Coe, Harry Rednapp and Sepp Blatter. All refute the suggestion it would endanger the footballing independence of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It looks like it’s down to me to argue the “over my dead body” case…

Let me start by laying my cards on the table. I’m a Scotland fan. I’m not a Tartan Army face paint and kilt type who glories in singing “Doh a deer” and “We’ll support you ever more" though. In a footballing sense Scotland brings little pleasure and a lot of pain but, as with the fan of any team constantly fighting against the odds, the former will always keep drawing me back to Hampden Park.

Scotland games are in many ways a release from following Rangers. It’s not just about the game, the day itself is an event. You go with friends and their families who don’t support the same club team. You make the effort to get some food and perhaps a drink or six pre-match. People travel from all round the country for their day out. More than the football it’s a chance to come together and enjoy each other’s company. It’s not glamorous compared to the bright flame of the London Olympics but it is unquestionably special. That though is not the sort of special a man like Lord Coe would understand. This after all is a man who is a proud member of a political party that once gloried under the doctrine there was “no such thing as society”.

It seems inconceivable to me that we would even consider risking our national team for the sake of a few games of under 23 football. Ok you’re allowed three over age players but I’d love to see how Fergie or Wenger would react to one of their top players disappearing for two weeks for a tournament generally considered to be an irrelevance compared to the World Cup or European Championship. The reality is the over age players are likely to be ageing celebs like David Beckham or a few token Celts. It's an important point that is lost, either through spectacular bias or professional incompetence, by almost every journalist in the mainstream British press. Let me say again for the avoidance of doubt, the Olympics is an under 23 football tournament.

Now some of you may not care for the Scottish national team. It’s hardly uncommon for club supporters not to be overly bothered about international football. The prestige and the importance of playing for your country has with almost every other vestige of football’s heritage been tarnished by the modern game’s preoccupation with money. Let me therefore frame this in terms of your average club football fan.

If Scotland were to lose its separate status as a football nation it would lose its own FA and the right to enter teams in Europe. No Champions League. Maybe there would be an upside for the Old Firm with be the forced establishment of a British league. Maybe. That would though see the current 6 teams the SPL and EPL have reduced to UEFA’s maximum of 4 so somewhere along the line someone will lose out here.

Does all that sound too apocalyptic? Admittedly that is very much a worst case scenario but let’s consider it in terms of risk and reward. What is it that Scotland will actually be gaining from all this?

Right now in any given season Glasgow will play host to 10 or so European games and 3 or 4 internationals. In the last 10 years the city has also hosted one Champions League final and one UEFA Cup final. In the last 5 years alone we've, Henri, Ronaldo, Buffon, Tevez, the greatest Spanish national side in history… I could go on but I think I’ve made my point.

During the Olympics Hampden will host 3 men's under 23 games and 5 women's games (the decision to allow the stadium to be used seemingly having been taken by the owners and not the SFA). The “highlight” will be a women’s quarter final. Presumably we'll be getting this regardless of there being a British team. There is obviously no suggestion the British team would lower themselves to turning out at Hampden but happily we’ll be able to enjoy that excitement on the TV as our license fee will ensure it’s on the BBC. Even so there will only be a maximum of 7 games for the men’s team to play. You may think losing our national team and our European places is highly unlikely but can you honestly tell me the risk justifies the reward here? Scotland takes the risk while the BOA take the reward. Thanks but no thanks, the SFA are right to distance themselves.

One other point the media seem to be down playing is that the Olympic Charter stipulates no top class football games will be permitted in Glasgow during the Olympics. The matches at Hampden are scheduled from Wednesday 25th July to Friday 3rd August. As we currently stand nobody seems certain if this will impact the start of the SPL season which we are now looking to begin earlier to help our teams in Europe. The SPL have seemingly written to the BOA to inform them the SPL will do as it wishes while the BOA don't appear to have done them the courtesy of acknowledging their letter and have stated publicly there will be no domestic games. There is also the question of what happens if Rangers or Celtic have a home European qualifier? Lord Coe has suggested the simple solution is to reverse the draw and play away that week. What if the opposition refuse? Would we forfeit the tie? Again we are into the realm of the hypothetical but the key for me is this hasn’t even been properly considered. It is exactly the sort of arrogant attitude you would expect from people who have no understanding of or care for football. We should trust these people when they say a British team won’t impact our footballing independence?

Right now Scotland currently has its own national team and FA. This was enshrined at the FIFA Congress of 1946 which also gave the four home nations of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland one permanent position on FIFA’s eight man International Football Association Board. This was a payoff for the four nations bailing out FIFA financially. FIFA could change this arrangement whenever they like. Why give them an instance of us playing as one team to allow it to be justified?

The privilege the four nations enjoy has over the years made enemies. John McBeth's comments a few years back certainly didn’t help and wrongly saw him forced to resign as FIFA Vice-President after groundless accusations of racism in the face of his assertion there were corrupt members at FIFA from Africa and the Carribean. Now that England have failed to win the World Cup bid their FA too have made it clear they have suddenly decided not to turn a blind eye to the alleged corruption at FIFA (their decision to spend the last few years in bed with the likes of Jack Warner having done them very little credit). Make no mistake, England and Scotland's stand last month did not go unnoticed. How odd that all of a sudden Uncle Sepp's assurances have been dropped by those seeking to impose a n Olympic team. He has contradicted himself on this issue with alarming frequency and appears an unlikely figure for anyone to place any faith in.

There is a tendency for people with my views on this subject to be dismissed as Little Scotlanders unable or unwilling to be happy for London. I hate to personalise the argument but I lived in London for a number of years, I am happy to declare my love for the city and my intention to get down at some point and experience the Olympics (though ideally the athletics or some other unique aspect of the event). We are not the ones pushing an agenda of self interest here. Scots may be shouting the loudest on this issue but this is not a case of Scotland v England. The official supporters groups of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland formed the No Team GB movement a number of years ago, they’ve just failed to gain any real momentum in the mainstream media or with football fans at large.

There is no real history or tradition of a British team at the Olympics. Scotland and England under 21s have both reached the semi final of the European Championships in the last couple of decades which won them entry to the Olympics. However, no British team enters so the opportunity was denied them. It seems unfair but hardly raised a headline at the time which merely serves to illustrate what an irrelevance the competition is. The argument now that the Olympic experience benefits youngsters' development may have some validity but if it wasn’t relevant when Scotland were denied the chance in the 90s or England at Beijing then how can it be anything other than an argument of convenience now?

If there must be a team then it should be England. Of course it should be England. Last time I checked London was still located in England. I realise that for political reasons there is a need to kid on the London Olympics somehow benefit the whole UK but seriously would anyone really think the event was diminished because 11 guys trot out with three lions on their chest not one?

I would hope that if more football fans fully understood the potential implications of this issue they would take it seriously. The only people who could ever support the forcing of a British Olympic football team on unwilling participants are individuals who have lost sight of the joy of sport in the face of the pursuit of money. These people would risk 130 plus years of tradition to sell a few more tickets. They would deny cyclists, runners, swimmers etc the two weeks in every four years when they are the top sporting story just to raise their own profiles with a photo with “our boys” in their new football tops (recommended retail price only £49.99). How very apt then that the notion’s most vocal supporters should be a Tory Peer, the head of FIFA and an EPL manager viewing this as a stepping stone to the England job seemingly denied him due to historical allegations regarding his transfer activities.

The London Olympics should be bringing true football fans of all four home nations together in a unified cry of "no Team GB".

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Posted by Tam Ferry on 06/20/2011

Hats off to a well written, well reasoned and accurate blog which captures most of the salient points of the risks of a Team GB.
keep up the good work.

Posted by Tam on 06/20/2011

No Team GB.

Do English fans really want a British team? No more references to 1966 as their team disappears forever (the absolute last thing I would want to happen if I was an English fan).

Let's keep our separate teams and give FIFA no opportunities to destroy them.

Posted by Chris on 06/20/2011

Nice to see an article with a personal perspective, that is also properly researched and logical! Well done sir.

Posted by Brian Ross on 06/20/2011

No Team GB!

Posted by cecilia fisher on 06/20/2011

no tam gb lets tart an fb page

Posted by oberon on 06/21/2011

Typical its amazing how much drivel can be written when it is specifically against England. No other country would take this berrating like the English do. Kick an Englishman has always been the Scottish Welsh Irish tradition. if any home nation gets kicked out of a competition Its I hope the B***** English follow us . I lived in Scotland for nearly 4 years and was amazed at the hate. If Scotland lose because they'er not good enough, all the Scots want is for England to be knocked out. There is no backing from any home country for England you'r all to blindingly Bitter, Biased and un-British this is why the whole so called "BRITISH" Isles never win anything Its own people undermine everything thats is tried. No other country would shoot itself in the foot no matter what is decided.
The trouble with all UK international soccer is the players unlike every other European country do not play for the honour of their country They play for themselves and their own selfish pride.
Wake up!!

Posted by Craig Mc on 06/21/2011

Don't be ridiculous you fool, as a Scotland fan born in England you're right when you say that most Scots/Irish/Welsh want to see the english FOOTBALL team lose. But this issue goes way beyond that. Would you honestly say it is worth sacrificing the Northern Irish, Welsh and Scottish football Associations for the sake of what is at best a second rate footballing tournament? If the answer is no then wind your neck in and read the original article properly if it is yes then you are frankly blinkered and idiotic. I wonder if your collectiveness extends to the EU or G8 with such ease? No Team GB! Alba gu brath!

Posted by Al Scott on 06/21/2011

Oberon, before getting someone to type your bile for you, try getting someone to read the OP to you and then get someone else to explain it to you.
A reasoned post like this deserves a reasoned response (whether in agreement or disagreement, but reasoned). You seem to have lost your reason on this matter.
If I am wrong, please explain why any point made in the Op is incorrect.

Posted by Nico on 06/21/2011

There's something that is assumed here (and elsewhere) that I would like someone to explain. Why would having a British team for the Olympics only be "risking" football independence for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland? Is the risk that FIFA will make some sort of ruling? If so, then why can't an appeal be made to FIFA ahead of time.

I completely agree that football independence shouldn't be given up, or even jeopardized. But I don't understand why that can't be avoided fairly easily. Anyway, I'd love to hear this explained.

Posted by remab on 06/21/2011

Fabulous blog post Doug. I totally do not follow football mainly due to the over enthusiastic passions it generates along with said six pints, but clearly get the point here. A GB team is absolutely the death knell for national FA identity. Shame Oberon didn't get it, but instead upheld my views on 'fans'. I trust true supporters of the game itself understand that last point. Best of luck in your campaign.

Posted by Dennis on 06/21/2011

Of the 4 only England has shown up once on the big stage & that was way back in 66. No wonder all 4 still stink & will never be relevent?!?! Keep up the self-destructive in-fighting, guys.

Posted by Mike on 06/21/2011

What a lot of garbage... The Olympic Games is entered by Great Britain not some tribal nationalists in Scotland, Wales or N. Ireland. The UK has squanders opportunities through the last 50 years to put a truly British team in the World Cup and actually win a few more. We don't see in Germany the Bavarian's demanding to represent themselves in the Olympics or World Cup. They and I would rather win these tournaments than have some mediocre squads play simply because that is what we did in the past. Anyone like to have seen Rush, Giggs, Keane or Best or any of a host of a group of top quality players playing in a united side rather than 4 mediocre ones. We are not Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia but the United Kingdom.

Posted by MeanOnSunday on 06/21/2011

Come on; we all know the real reason for opposition to a British team and it has nothing to do with some fantasy about losing places in Europe. The other FAs are afraid that if their best players get a taste for winning then they will desert and choose to play for England.

With an attitude like that Scotland and Wales deserve to lose their best players. Isn't enough to deprive your players of ever even appearing in the World Cup finals, let alone any chance of winning? Grow some balls and trust the players loyalty.

Posted by joewarkfanclub on 06/21/2011

Oberon, at what point does the author berate or have a kick at england or the english? he has a swipe at lord coe and the boa but actually credits england supporters for being involved in no team gb.

clearly your post is influenced by a negative experience living north of the border and I cannot comment on that although I must concede that the attitude you speak of does exist, at least in the sporting sense.

this campaign has nothing to do with having a go at england (although there are some that would use it to justify their narrow minded racism) it is everything to do with protecting the very existence of the 4 (yes that includes england) home associations in the face of blatant self interest on the part of the boa, alleged corruption at the heart of fifa and increasing pressure from the emerging nations. please read the article again, maybe read what your own supporters association says on the matter and please reconsider your opinion

Posted by matt bradley on 06/21/2011


Posted by Kevan on 06/22/2011

So um....maybe because I'm American so I don't "understand," but exactly how does a Team GB, together for the period of 2 weeks, endanger national footballing identities? Isn't it just for the Olympics? I'd understand if this was an attempt to abolish the Scotland, Wales, England, and Northern Ireland FA forevermore, but it's not. So what's with the gloom-doom?

Posted by Akueldo on 06/22/2011

This is a really well reasoned blog. I wasn't fully educated on the issue, and this has helped shape my understanding.

Posted by Bandit1200 on 06/22/2011

NO TO TEAM GB - if they go down this road with the Football team its only a matter of time before it will be the Rugby teams as well and any other independant team in the isles for that matter....

Posted by kerrwyn on 06/22/2011

was wondering if it doesnt follow that the english too would lose their independence along with the scots irish and welsh,all d article claims is that the three smaller countries might lose out seems to me to be a case of deep rooted insularity more than any real threat from fifa

Posted by Decs on 06/22/2011

RE; Mike. A simple and breif observation/history lesson. The four distinct regions mention in this piece are refering to the United Kingdon. The Republic of Ireland and its respective footballing body, the FAI, are independent... a republic if like... Roy/Robbie Keane would not be eleigble for selection.

I agree with the direction of the piece, although I do believe that a closed decision must be made to finally put this matter to bed.

Posted by EASYPEASY on 06/22/2011

THe answer is simple: England,Ireland,Scotland and Wales should become totally independent from each other. That way they can have their own Olympic Teams, soccer teams etc.
Petition the "British" Parliament people.

Posted by Chris on 06/22/2011

I am English and against the Team GB idea, however I find the argument that if there was a Team GB it would be hand-in-hand with a combined British FA rather ludicrous.

Posted by gaz on 06/22/2011

Great article! It's a pity the english media don't take a balanced view on this, but I suppose they just don't understand that scots have their own identity.

It'a also worth mentioning, that this has deflected more awkward questions for coe and his cronies. They've been spending money like it's going out of fashion, all during a recession, because they know the government will bail them out rather than be embarassed by the games failing.
Money has been diverted away from scottish sport, and in return they patronise us with a few u23 games to justify it.

Posted by Leighton on 06/22/2011

Just randomly found this article must say its brillant.

Posted by Douglas Cameron on 06/22/2011

Thanks to everyone who has commented so far, especially those who took the time to read and absorb the arguments. Thanks also to the BOA for proving my views as regards their arrogance to be completely correct. To claim you have reached a “historic agreement” when 3 of the 4 parties you should be consulting have continually voiced their opposition says everything you need to know.

This blog is simply a hobby for me. I generally take a couple of hours at the weekend to write something though obviously in this instance I put in some time researching the key facts. I therefore find the inability of the professional media to fully explain why the Celtic nations and football fans oppose this hugely disappointing. Particularly puzzling is lack of a challenge regarding the "assurances" this will have no impact on our separate status only a day after covering Jack Warner’s resignation from FIFA to dodge corruption charges. Yesterday FIFA = corrupt. Today FIFA = trustworthy. Given the political pressure involved such bias is possibly understandable.

Posted by Olaseni on 06/22/2011

Nico, Mike and Kevan make the point (and rightly so) that there is a general assumption that playing as team GB automatically translates into a loss of identity for the home nations' individual FAs.

Sadly, I fail to see how this conclusion can be reached. As has already been noted the Olympics are entered into by a team representing Great Britain and not by any individual home nation, so why should the football event be any different?

If you contest the Olympics as team GB, why go your separate ways when individual events are concerned? Its simple logic to me, all or nothing. Don't approbate then reprobate.

Posted by aguycalleddavid on 06/22/2011

Very self serving article raising road blocks deliberately to make points. Going to a Scotland game is special, as well it should be, but stating “More than the football it’s a chance to come together and enjoy each other’s company. It’s not glamorous compared to the bright flame of the London Olympics but it is unquestionably special”; of course, but it is the game that makes the day special is it not? Why does the writer assume that Lord Coe would not understand that “sort of special”?

“I would hope that if more football fans fully understood the potential implications of this issue they would take it seriously”! The writer seems above us all; the so called “implications” are mere fallacy. What’s all this stupid talk about losing independence? The writer has trapped himself with the desire to write the article.

It is “considered to be an irrelevance compared to the World Cup….” A matter of opinion. The World Cup in my opinion is one tournament too many, considering the Confederations Cup the year before; with the demanding schedule the top players have! And don’t tell me that the World Cup has not “lost sight of the joy of sport in the face of the pursuit of money”.

Posted by Bill on 06/22/2011

Speaking as a neutral who was in London when they won the Olympics, I find the Scots attitude to this whole scenario very boring. No one cares. I love Scotland and the Scottish people, please just get on with hosting the Olympcis and drop all this garbage.

Posted by Grow up Scots!! on 06/22/2011

This Cameron guy try's to hide his hate agenda against England with his smokescreen BS about losing the other FA's but let's be real about this, this is about payback for England defeating and Controlling Scotland, Wales and N.ireland to this day. England just's keeps giving, adjusting to the PC world we live in now, understanding times have changed, it is not about controlling others but working together, all they get in return is slapped in the face by childish little people trying to act big flying their flag (now the real battles are over lol). Most Scots, Welsh and understand that they are stronger for being part of Britain,utd together. On the flip side you have others like the blogger and the Soccernet staff which, which take every chance they get to knock England and English Soccer (some more hidden than others). Nothing can change history what happened has happened.Some will never be able to let it go, in today's PC times they can pile on, to those get a life MOVE ON

Posted by William on 06/22/2011


THere have been countless occaisions that other countries (usually african or asian countries)have questioned why one country (in their eyes) gets to play as four seperate countries. these four countries also get four places on the FIFA executive committee. They all see it as unfair especially as it also means less chance of a place in a world cup for them.

Posted by joewarkfanclub on 06/22/2011

re: olaseni

you ask a question as to why entering a team gb football team at the olympics would threaten the existence of the seperate home associations.....

.....I think the answer to your question in your next sentence!

This is exactly the view held by the emerging nations within FIFA who will continue to push for a single UK association / team, especially if we give them the ammunition to fire by actually taking the field under one banner, regardless of the copetition or the make up of the team.

No Team GB! Simples!

Posted by Rachida on 06/22/2011

Just a little reminder: the Olympics is NOT anyone's league (premier or not) and should not be confused with FIFA, FA, SFA, EPL or SPL; and, the Olympic Games are supposed to be for amateurs-NOT people with swelled egos like David Beckham (who's time is past to be an Olympian-for which he is unqualified anyway.) If the agreement was that a football team be under a multi-national flag, then all young men who fall under that category and are eligible to play should be allowed to do so. Let GB be just that-GREAT (meaning a conglomeration) with its diversity intact and acknowledged in its Olympic team.

Posted by Aussie Steve on 06/22/2011

British and Irish Lions anyone? Here's an excellent example of it working at a Rugby level without any of the individual 'Nations' losing out.

Posted by Barroldinho on 06/23/2011

Well written blog. I'd be more inclined to agree if this whole thing didn't feel like baseless paranoia on the part of the home nations.

FIFA has assured them that it won't effect their independent status. If this were simply a case of fear of "losing their status", there would have been more discussion about compromise and ways around that potential, rather than the staunch opposition which has been in place since day one. What's stopping the 4 FAs from approaching FIFA in a bid to draw something legal up, that makes this happen and establishes protection? If they'd taken that route with no joy, then I would respect their cautious stance.

What I object most to though, is the poster's attitude towards this competition. It has actually been something that other nations have taken seriously for years. If we had a GB team, you'd probably realise that.

Posted by Robert on 06/23/2011

Oberon you are blind to a simple fact. England are the ones who's imperialist greed motivated them to invade, rape, murder people who just wanted to be left to their own devices for almost a millenium. And let me finish, before you accuse me of living in the past or some bollocks. This may have stopped but there is still a very real, almost tangible, superiority complex, arrogance, and general dismissiveness of us which garners strong resentment. I know this as I have spent half of my life in England. The English treat the relationship as if it is the same both ways and we should all cheer each other on but we only ever wanted you to sit behind Hadrian's Wall and mind your own business. That is why it is different. You have no reason to dislike us, other than for not turning around and bending over for you. We have many not to like you

Posted by MelssisyEmine on 12/04/2011

hi all.Very good site.

Posted by shaun the brummie on 01/04/2012

all you whinging jocks,taffs and paddies,you think we want anything to do with you non acheivers...think again.what we english want is a real break up of the uk,cementing englands identity.of course you carpet bagging celts go on about not wanting a gb football side(totally agree),but you sure as hell want into english football.we need the english fa to have all football teams reapply to join english football,then we can say to the welsh teams they failed to meet certain criteria,and must return to the welsh restructuring needed....but a lot of happy english people around.

Posted by jamesy679p on 05/07/2012


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