It still amazes me how quickly adulation can turn to despair in football. We are all used to the highs and lows of following both our club sides and national teams but we are potentially set for more disappointment about a team that hasn’t even formed yet. On Tuesday a ‘historic decision’ was announced by the British Olympic Association (BOA) that a united Great Britain football team would compete in the Olympics, the first time this has happened in 52 years for both men’s and ladies football. Following the announcement it has been a whirlwind 24 hours for Team GB football after the FA’s of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland reacted angrily to the statement.
The BOA made an ambiguous statement that there is an agreement in place and all home nation players will be eligible for selection. But since the announcement all FA’s with the exception of the FA (England) have backtracked and it appears that FIFA have a large influence on this. Scottish FA president George Peat came out and said “I am absolutely astounded that they have put out this statement. I know nothing about any such agreement and we want nothing to do with this tournament.” A collective statement was issued by the 3 nations to the same affect, so what the hell is going on?
There has been some clarification, SFA chief executive Stewart Regan has told the Scottish players they are available and no sanctions will be imposed if they do decide to play. Whether this is the case for the Welsh and N.Irish FA’s remains to be seen, but from a legal perspective this seems to be the case across the board.
The home nation FA’s have stated that their worry is FIFA and after everything that has gone on recently, they cannot be trusted. FIFA have given their blessing to the GB Football Team stating to each FA that their involvement in the GB Football Team would not affect their ‘autonomy and independence for other FIFA-sanctioned tournaments, nor … impact on their positions of leadership within the FIFA governance structure’, but this is not legally binding. The worry being that this could change in future at the drop of a hat and threaten their sovereignty because of the cohesion between the countries to form GB Football Team, this could be something considered in future by FIFA.
There are more and more countries forming in the world and other countries that previously had little interest in football coming to prominence. We all know how difficult it is for any changes to happen at FIFA, but imagine 10 new countries wanting to join the ‘FIFA family’. All hell would probably break loose and it is the worry of the Scottish, N.Irish and Welsh FA that FIFA may push for a permanent GB team if FIFA need to free up some space to accommodate new nations. The other issue is that this tournament is likely to overlap the start of the domestic seasons, so I am sure more opposition will follow.
All a bit confusing? It is the only way it can be when sport meets politics! I say screw all this negativity, stop worrying about ‘what ifs’ as ultimately all the home nations should leave FIFA anyway so they should not worry about what may or may not happen in future. I am excited about all the best players coming together and the fans getting along … well we can hope, if any of us actually get tickets to watch the GB Football Team that is. I am looking forward to seeing who is selected, who will manage and even what the kit will be like.
For me this is another situation that highlights why we need to leave FIFA. Basically the home nation FA’s have come out and pretty much said they cannot be trusted. At the moment our neighbouring countries do not seem to have much cohesion so what better way to improve relations than a united team with all involved pulling in the same direction. A great man once said ‘simplicity is genius’ … in this case it totally is. No matter where you are from in this isle, lets come together for the good of all of us and more importantly the good of the game.