Why Was It Done?
As the United Kingdom, rather than England, was designated as the host nation for the 2012 Olympic Games, it was thought that it would be fitting to have a football team representing the nation this year. Everybody knows that each country in the union represents themselves when playing football at international level, and this was really the first bone of contention when it comes to having a combined team. The “smaller” nations’, or to be more blunt, the nations who aren’t named England, Football Associations were worried that being involved would lead to their FIFA memberships being called into question.
Even without the possibility of such sanctions, people were still left hugely unimpressed. This is partially what led coach Stuart Pearce into picking players only from England or Wales.
On the one hand, Pearce looked to remove the circus surrounding the whole footballing furore by not naming David Beckham in his squad. While this seems to be a shrewd move – playing in the American Major League is hardly top-level, I do not care what anyone says – what he has done is actually increase the media scrutiny and left the door wide open for huge criticism if they don’t perform.
Legendary Liverpool manager Bill Shankly once said to Phil Thompson, who had queried why he wasn’t in the team following a heavy defeat: “Did you see how bad they were? Do you really want to have your name associated with that?”
I have a funny feeling that Beckham may be feeling those same sentiments in a week or so!
Does Anyone Care?
Nationalism, at least among the working classes, is currently at an all-time high in the United Kingdom. Ask the man on the street what he thinks about Scottish independence, for example, and the answer will probably be “good luck to them.” Sport in the UK has always been afflicted with the notion of supporting people from another nation. It is why Andy Murray went from British to Scottish in the space of an hour at Wimbledon earlier this month, and why the rivalry between opposing nations in the union, particularly at football and when England is involved, is so fierce.
After all the publicity and fuss surrounding the Team GB football squad, there is likely to be an underwhelming feeling of “meh” felt by the vast majority of the nation both now and in the future, especially as their chances of success appear slim.
There are a wonderful set of Olympic sporting videos that have been produced by Videojug specifically for the Olympic games.