Wednesday, 22 October 2008

A Dangerous Game

I see Gordon Brown is banging on about a GB Olympic Footie Team again.

The suggestion has caused horror at the SFA and amongst the Tartan Army for they both know that such a precedent would set in motion a chain of political manouveres within FIFA aimed at ending the independent representation of the 4 home nations.

FIFA is a very different beast to the one which existed the last time Great Britain competed in the Olympic Football tournament. The African nations now have a legitmate claim to greater representation in World Cup Finals and far greater political clout. And, following the admittance of dozens of new European members in recent years, it is becoming increasingly difficult to manage qualification tournaments in the context of crowded (and financially lucrative) club committments.

Collapsing 4 national teams from the UK into 1 would ease a lot of those pressures and don't think for a moment that there are many movers and shakers in FIFA that are looking for any excuse to push for this. Football is not in the same position as Rugby, Hockey or Cricket who all need as many international teams as possible to keep the sport viable globally.

Looking at the situation from the perspective of other countries, I can understand their frustrations. Why should Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland - regions of England / the UK as they it - have separate representation?

The SNP are making the noises you would expect but I wonder if the threat of an end to Scotland's independent status as a footballing nation wouldn't bring its objective closer?

I've said before that Scotland needs to get its obsession with football into perspective. It would be interesting to see what would happen in an Independence Referendum if one of the issues at stake was the very future of Scotland's National Football Team.

If Brown and Seb Coe keep pushing this idea and the SNP manage to secure a Referendum for 2010 we may very well find out.

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