Since the announcement that Team GB would field a team for London 2012 there has been much debate about the selection process, especially regarding whether non-English players will participate. The resistance of Welsh, Northern Irish and Scottish representatives is understandable; their independant status within FIFA could be threatened as a result. However, I still think that there are many positives to be taken from Team GB’s involvement and these will outweigh the negatives. So, I’ve put together my thoughts on why football and Team GB deserve their shot at Olympic Glory.
Football is the most watched sport in the UK and so there should be a team to represent that fact. London 2012 will show Great Britain as a true sporting nation and football is such a major part of this. This is why Team GB is right to acknowlegde Britain’s love for the game and put a team forward.
The Olympic event will also highlight the popularity of Women’s football in the UK. In terms of participation, Women’s football is one of the fastest growing sports in Britain and this should be celebrated. Since the first inclusion of the event at the Olympics in 1996 there has never been a women’s team chosen to represent Great Britain. What a fantastic opportunity to show the talent of the Team GB women to the world.
The men’s tournament will also, as Stuart Pearce has rightly pointed out, provide invaluable experience for the youngsters who will be playing with the constant support of a home crowd. In fact, without the overbearing pressure from the media that so often surrounds our Home Nations in the big tournaments, Team GB could do well in this competition.
On that note, I have to discuss the opinion of certain critics who say that the Olympic football tournament should not be included at all. Their main reason is that the World Cup and European Championships represent the pinnacle of the international game and that the Olympic football event does not. I think that this comment can only stem from a football commentary as it disregards the spirit of the Olympic games. The Olympics is the pinnacle of the sporting world; the inclusion of the many sports that take part are what makes it so special. The football tournament may not be on the front pages daily but this does not make it less worthy as an Olympic event. Even so, if Team GB play well the British public will support them and they might even win Team GB a medal!