This week has seen the most remarkable piece of manoeuvring by the British Olympic Association (BOA) in it’s attempts to finalise the parameters for a ‘Team GB’ [sic] football team which will take part in next year’s London Olympics. Yesterday, the BOA issued a press release on it’s website claiming an “Historic Agreement” has been reached to allow for a return of a British men’s team as well as the inclusion of a women’s team for the first time.
The BOA appear to have given ‘the FA’ (the Football Association for England) representative status for the other three ‘Home Nation’ associations – the FAW (Wales), SFA (Scotland) and IFA (Northern Ireland). They have the “responsibility for nominating the managers, players, and support personnel” to the BOA for selection to ‘Team GB’. The BOA then goes on to say that players from England, Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland are eligible as long as they are from the territory under the BOA’s remit as a member of the International Olympic Committee.
The BOA go on to say that ‘the FA’ have consulted with the other ‘Home Nation’ FA’s in order to reach this position… yet according to the ‘Celts’ it would appear that their thoughts and views have not been heeded by ‘the FA’ or the BOA!! The Angry response from the Scots, Welsh & Irish clearly shows that the BOA (possibly in cahoots with ‘the FA’) have made up their mind that they’re in charge of Olympic football in Britain and that is that.
The smaller Associations are fearful that FIFA will use a ‘united’ team as the foundation of an attack on their autonomy and force through a ‘team UK’ for the World Cup and UEFA’s European Championship. FIFA have written to each of the SFA, FAW and IFA to assure them that this would not be the case… it was signed by J Blatter… so I think we can all safely say that it’s probably not worth the paper it’s written on.
The position of the SFA and the FAW is also somewhat complicated by the fact that a stadium in each country is being used for Olympic Football – a message of ‘you can use our stadia (for a price of course), but you can’t use our players’. The IFA’s bungling of progress on a Stadium for Northern Ireland has meant we’re not in the running for games, though probably our progress on the pitch under Nigel Worthington suggests neither are our players!!
I’ve already said that I don’t believe that football should even be an Olympic Sport due to the nature of the beast… it’s a professional sport and the Olympics is not the pinnacle of it. Frankly, it won’t be the best watched football tournament that summer, let alone a four year cycle, as the UEFA European Championships will finish up around a month before the Olympics start.
Another flavour to the BOA’s team is the name ‘team GB’… this is the Olympic organisation that represents the UK… that’s the “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland” to give it it’s full title. You’ll notice the distinction between the Great Britain and the Northern Ireland bit in the full title… something that the BOA doesn’t seem interested in changing. It’s funny how now they seem to want us… I personally want all British entrants to the Olympics to do well… I’d like to be recognised as a part – yes a small part – within my own countries team though. Hardly too much to ask you’d think.
And a final irony… if players born within the UK territory are eligible for the BOA’s team, then Darron Gibson, Marc Gibson and the rest of the defectors from the IFA’s team to the Republic of Ireland are also eligible… wouldn’t it be weird (though lets be honest it’s extremely to happen) if Gibson, who turned his back on his country to represent another ended up playing for the UK side at the Olympics!?