The British Olympics Committee (BOC) has come to agreement with FIFA with regard to a “Team GB” football team playing in the London Olympic Games.
It had been a major worry that if a British Team were to play in the Olympics then FIFA might force all future World and European Cup teams to be British, thus ending the extremely generous settlement that the UK state got to have four separate national football teams.
FIFA has, however, said that the countries’ separate teams will be able to continue to play international matches separately.
There are, of course, worries about this. There are several countries which would like to put forward football teams but are not allowed to because they are seen to be integral parts of other states (Greenland comes immediately to mind, although it is much less integral to Denmark than Scotland is to the UK). Pressure may be put upon FIFA to amend the ruling. Of course the other problem about anything coming from FIFA is, how much can you trust it? As an organisation it’s not exactly a shining example of probity.
The BOC in a joint statement with the FA (that’s the English FA) said that an “historic agreement” had been reached between the governing bodies of the four home nations, paving the way for Team GB to take part. BOA chief executive and Team GB boss Andy Hunt said: “Seeing Team GB take to the pitch in 2012 will be one of the defining moments of the London Olympic Games.”
The BOA said Scots-born players would, he said, be able to take part after consulting with their clubs and the SFA. However, former SFA president George Peat said: “I am absolutely astounded they have put out this statement. I know nothing about any such agreement and we want nothing to do with this tournament.”
Stewart Reagan, the Chief Executive of the SFA said that he and his opposite numbers at the WFA and NIFA are against this and knew of no such agreement. This leads me to suppose that the Olympics Committee and the English FA must have agreed all this without any consultation with Scotland, or Wales. (As Northern Ireland is not in Great Britain, I am at a loss to know why they have been included in this.)
He said: “No discussions took place with any of us, far less has an historic agreement been reached. The associations are committed to supporting the individual home nations playing all representative football under their respective flags as independent members of FIFA and UEFA.”
Politicians have also condemned the announcement. Pete Wishart (SNP) said it was appalling and Jim Murphy (Labour) warned that any agreement coming from FIFA should be studied carefully.
Of course the players are individuals and they can, if they wish, take part in this event. There are certainly no legal restraints available to the Celtic associations. However, if they do take part, players may well find that they will from here on in play for a GB team, which, of course, given the imbalance in the size of the populations of the countries, means that, unless they are brilliant, they are most unlikely to play international football ever again!”
One thing that should be remembered is that this is Gordon Brown’s doing. He wanted a GB team and he set out to use his position to get it. If he loses Scotland its right to play as a nation, hell mend him ... and his legacy.
Pics: Stewart Reagan (SFA Chairman) and Gordon Brown (an author and semi-retired politician of dubious repute) looking a lot better than usual.