There’s long been a debate as to whether Great Britain should have four different national football sides or not. That debate has lessened in recent years, as Scotland and Wales have secured a greater measure of independence.
Nevertheless, Britain competes at each Olympic Games as a combined Great Britain team, so why should football be any different?
At London 2012, Great Britain’s combined football team will be doing all they can to win Olympic gold under the watchful eye of coach, Stuart Pearce.
However, the Football Association of Wales and its Scottish and Northern Irish equivalents fear that endorsing a Great Britain team will encourage other countries to demand that the four home nations always play as a combined Great Britain team.
What is wrong with that? Why should Great Britain have four different teams? And if the team does win gold at London 2012, or comes anywhere close to it, surely that lends even greater weight to the argument?
Imagine how much stronger a Great Britain side that included Ryan Giggs would have been over the last 20 years, or one that was able to include Gareth Bale today. The side would certainly be a more popular side in Olympics 2012 odds.
The Olympic football tournament is an under-23 competition, but three players over 22 can be included in the team. Perhaps the youthful factor is the key to a future Team GB in international football. If the team wins, there will surely be a clamour in certain quarters, but it is mainly in Scotland where the independence line is strongest.
The Scottish Football Association (SFA) refused to attend meetings when the Home Nations first met to discuss the possibility of a combined Team GB – then the Football Association of Wales withdrew, and later, the Irish FA (representing Northern Ireland) announced they would not take part.
Obviously, their fears are that it sets a precedent they would not welcome, but this is ridiculous, as witnessed by the performance of the other home nations at international level. At least a Team GB across all football events would give them a decent chance of winning something, a case that will surely be strengthened by a great showing from Football Team GB at London 2012.
Follow the trials and tribulations of Team GB at http://betting.betfair.com/betting/2012-olympics/.