MICHAEL PEARLMAN SAYS: Team GB football is a farce

GREAT PLAYER, BAD IDEA: Aaron Ramsey in the Team GB strip

GREAT PLAYER, BAD IDEA: Aaron Ramsey in the Team GB strip

First published in Michael Pearlman South Wales Argus: Photograph of the Author by

FOR weeks and even months I’ve made no attempt to hide my disdain for the football element of the Olympics, most pertinently the participation of a Team GB side.

So now here is my top ten reasons why I think it’s utter rubbish and as ever, your feedback is positively encouraged.

1) Politicians

The last thing I personally ever want to hear or see is politicians – who let’s be honest, struggle enough with their day jobs – using sport for their own means. That’s exactly what has happened with the Team GB football team resurrected after 42-years. The concept was the brainchild of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, no doubt dreamed up at a cabinet meeting because of the obvious financial benefits. This team is not the result of the will of the people; it’s simply the will of political point scorers.

2) Money matters

There are many elements to this that bother me, but out and out exploitation of working men and women is perhaps the more obviously irksome. As I pointed out previously, TWO separate jerseys were released for sale, a supporters’ jersey, luckily just out in time for last Christmas, priced at a perfectly reasonable £52 and then the actual kit they will wear designed by Stella McCartney was released this year priced again at £52. So if little Johnny wants the latest football shirt that Ryan Giggs is wearing, you can add over £100 on top of the club shirts that change every single season. How on earth can you cite building a legacy with such blatant money-making exercises?

3) Historic agreement my foot

Remember the claim from the English Football Association that an historic agreement had been reached to allow Team GB to become a reality? You know, the claim dismissed within one hour by the other associations, who ironically did stand together as one to tell England to shove off.

This has been the FA bullying the others into submission and the Welsh are penalised for having good players. The Welsh FA have been thoroughly embarrassed after making clear their objections and that’s entirely unfair.

4) Selection hypocrisy

It’s only the very best players who can be involved you see. It’s a squad that has to be picked on merit and that means no passengers. Except for Craig Bellamy who is never in one billion years going to be able to cope with potentially six games in 20 days. And ALL the England players who aren’t considered because they played at the Euros. Apart from Jack Butland.

They’ve contradicted themselves time and time again. If we honestly want the best squad, Wayne Rooney and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who barely played at the European Championships, should both have been selected.

5) Beckham-Gate

I won’t jump on the bandwagon of Beckham "deserving better", because I don’t see how a footballer can complain when he’s treated like a footballer. If Beckham wanted to stay relevant then he shouldn’t have signed for LA Galaxy.

However, as Stuart Pearce insists he’d made up his mind a while back on not selecting Beckham, why did his name continue to be so heavily linked with the squad? Wouldn’t have anything to do with ‘Brand Beckham’ being a cash cow and people buying tickets on the back of expecting to see him play would it?

How convenient to pull him out of the shortlisted squad only after the last Team GB ticket was sold. Much like with Harry Redknapp and the England post, the speculation suited the English FA down to the ground.

6) Scheduling

A friendly with Brazil and then potentially six games in 20 days in the final three weeks of pre-season.

I can’t wait for the reaction of Alex Ferguson when Tom Cleverly or Ryan Giggs comes back injured. Or how thrilled Chris Coleman will be when Bellamy aggravates a groin or hamstring and isn’t eligible for the first World Cup 2014 qualifiers.

7) The gaffer

The whole process has always been entirely about the English and the selection of Stuart Pearce is all the evidence that is needed to back up that point.

Is the best man to manage a united British side really a modestly successful Under-21 boss?

Shouldn’t the process have been thrown open if this is truly a collective? Shouldn’t it have been the best man for the job? Like Arsene Wenger or Alex Ferguson or if you need an out-of-work manager, Harry Redknapp? Hell, if it’s got to be an U-21 boss, Brian Flynn’s achievements far eclipse Pearce’s.

8) Threat to status

Not this, some will bleat. Stop scare-mongering Michael. Sepp Blatter has assured everyone that a Team GB squad won’t affect independence.

That’ll be the same Sepp Blatter who after Frank Lampard’s ‘goal’ against Germany, went to great lengths to explain why he was opposed to goal-line technology. Yet just two years later and when the shoe was on the other foot for England, Blatter did a total 180 and made clear goal-line technology was a necessity. In other words, I don’t trust a word that comes out of his mouth.

I know of at least one reader who is bound to argue that a permanent Team GB isn’t such a bad idea with the separate nations all toiling to some degree. But that totally ignores both the historical and emotional attachment we have to following international football. Simply put, anyone in favour of losing independent status is in a massive minority.

9) Legacy

Remember, the Olympics is about legacy. Well who fancies a little bet with me? It’s been 42-years since Team GB fielded a football side at the Olympics. I’ll happily have a sportsman’s bet with any reader that Team GB WILL NOT line-up at the Brazil Olympics in 2016. In fact I guarantee they won’t.

10)We will be rubbish

Seen the squad? If that’s the best we can do, what has all the fuss been about anyway? The Best of British, apparently...

Comments (20)

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10:48am Tue 3 Jul 12

Owain Vaughan says...

British players playing for a British team? Nothing wrong with that. If that simple logic puts me in a minority then it's a badge I will wear with pride.
British players playing for a British team? Nothing wrong with that. If that simple logic puts me in a minority then it's a badge I will wear with pride. Owain Vaughan
  • Score: 0

11:18am Tue 3 Jul 12

Mr Angry says...

Give up Owain - you've lost. Wales wants team GB to fail, and it will hopefully, and miserably
Give up Owain - you've lost. Wales wants team GB to fail, and it will hopefully, and miserably Mr Angry
  • Score: 0

11:43am Tue 3 Jul 12

Mr Bump. says...

I wish the Argus would do away with the annoying video link on the sports pages. I think i'll stick to the news pages.
I wish the Argus would do away with the annoying video link on the sports pages. I think i'll stick to the news pages. Mr Bump.
  • Score: 0

12:37pm Tue 3 Jul 12

Euwan Usami says...

Man what a rant lol! There is no more proud and loyal supporter that a Welsh rugby fan but most supporters and rugby players would say the ultimate achievement is being selected for the Lions.
There is nothing wrong with the concept and no reason both UK and regional teams can't co-exist in my book. Unless it treated like a "Dream team"non reality though then I can see that it won't work in the minds of the supporters.
Man what a rant lol! There is no more proud and loyal supporter that a Welsh rugby fan but most supporters and rugby players would say the ultimate achievement is being selected for the Lions. There is nothing wrong with the concept and no reason both UK and regional teams can't co-exist in my book. Unless it treated like a "Dream team"non reality though then I can see that it won't work in the minds of the supporters. Euwan Usami
  • Score: 0

1:25pm Tue 3 Jul 12

Mr Angry says...

The Lions are an established touring team, playing only southern hemisphere teams away from home, they do not enter world cups, 6 nations or tri nations. Team GB is just rubbish.
The Lions are an established touring team, playing only southern hemisphere teams away from home, they do not enter world cups, 6 nations or tri nations. Team GB is just rubbish. Mr Angry
  • Score: 0

6:28pm Tue 3 Jul 12

Devon Malcolm says...

A farce is a football tournament with no home team.

I find no compelling points in this argument. Some are ridiculous. Stella McCartney designs the replica kits and they are for sale at the same price as Premiership. Well knock me down with a feather someone is trying to make a profit from football/olympics whatever next.

None of the FAs outside England wanted it, well tough many of their players clearly do.

The fixture list may upset some big clubs; couldn't care less.

You don't like the team that's been selected, well nothing new there.

You don't want Stuart Pearce as manager, but your suggestions as replacement are non starters.

If Sepp Blatter disagrees to the right of the 4 nations to play football then he may have a point. "but what about the historical and emotional attachment" I hear you cry, well tell that to Basques, Catalans, Corsicans, Chechens etc.. many of whom would love to have the same unique and bizarre arrangement as our 4 nations do.

There is one thing you can do if you fancy it, just ignore the football in the olympics and turn over to watch the synchronised swimming, the judo or the handball.
A farce is a football tournament with no home team. I find no compelling points in this argument. Some are ridiculous. Stella McCartney designs the replica kits and they are for sale at the same price as Premiership. Well knock me down with a feather someone is trying to make a profit from football/olympics whatever next. None of the FAs outside England wanted it, well tough many of their players clearly do. The fixture list may upset some big clubs; couldn't care less. You don't like the team that's been selected, well nothing new there. You don't want Stuart Pearce as manager, but your suggestions as replacement are non starters. If Sepp Blatter disagrees to the right of the 4 nations to play football then he may have a point. "but what about the historical and emotional attachment" I hear you cry, well tell that to Basques, Catalans, Corsicans, Chechens etc.. many of whom would love to have the same unique and bizarre arrangement as our 4 nations do. There is one thing you can do if you fancy it, just ignore the football in the olympics and turn over to watch the synchronised swimming, the judo or the handball. Devon Malcolm
  • Score: 0

7:16pm Tue 3 Jul 12

Newport Dave says...

Mr Angry wrote:
Give up Owain - you've lost. Wales wants team GB to fail, and it will hopefully, and miserably
Everyone in Wales??

That's interesting. I don't remember beng invited to take part in that poll. When was it taken?
[quote][p][bold]Mr Angry[/bold] wrote: Give up Owain - you've lost. Wales wants team GB to fail, and it will hopefully, and miserably[/p][/quote]Everyone in Wales?? That's interesting. I don't remember beng invited to take part in that poll. When was it taken? Newport Dave
  • Score: 0

10:23pm Tue 3 Jul 12

CM1 says...

This is such a yawn. I suspect that most rational Welsh people will be happy to support a GB team. That is, if they actually give a flying......
This is such a yawn. I suspect that most rational Welsh people will be happy to support a GB team. That is, if they actually give a flying...... CM1
  • Score: 0

10:43pm Tue 3 Jul 12

VoiceOfDaPort says...

There's nothing wrong with having a Team GB in the football, it means nothing to anything but the Olympic's.

FAW are just a waste of space, who dont see the benefit of actually having players, even if it's just 5 (3 under 23), getting some experience of international tournament football.

Overall this is a pointless article, go Team GB!
There's nothing wrong with having a Team GB in the football, it means nothing to anything but the Olympic's. FAW are just a waste of space, who dont see the benefit of actually having players, even if it's just 5 (3 under 23), getting some experience of international tournament football. Overall this is a pointless article, go Team GB! VoiceOfDaPort
  • Score: 0

9:20am Wed 4 Jul 12

Mervyn James says...

It's the same old a political ploy endorsed by Cameron, who has lost the plot with Scotland and Ireland opting out altogether because they have principles and Wales doesn't.. It just makes the welsh contribution look even worse, what the hell ARE we doing there at all ? For team GB read team ENGLAND.
It's the same old a political ploy endorsed by Cameron, who has lost the plot with Scotland and Ireland opting out altogether because they have principles and Wales doesn't.. It just makes the welsh contribution look even worse, what the hell ARE we doing there at all ? For team GB read team ENGLAND. Mervyn James
  • Score: 0

11:37am Wed 4 Jul 12

Devon Malcolm says...

Mervyn James wrote:
It's the same old a political ploy endorsed by Cameron, who has lost the plot with Scotland and Ireland opting out altogether because they have principles and Wales doesn't.. It just makes the welsh contribution look even worse, what the hell ARE we doing there at all ? For team GB read team ENGLAND.
Please get your facts straight rather than making lazy statements. Yes it was endorsed by Cameron (English) but also Brown (Scottish) and Blair (English). Ireland (Republic) is an independent country therefore did did not opt as it is nothing to do with this. The Northern Irish, Scottish and Welsh FAs opted out, but admitted they could not stop individual players taking part. Wales is fortunate in that it has many quality players in the overage and underage categories were excited by playing in a major tournament, playing in the olympics and playing for GB.
[quote][p][bold]Mervyn James[/bold] wrote: It's the same old a political ploy endorsed by Cameron, who has lost the plot with Scotland and Ireland opting out altogether because they have principles and Wales doesn't.. It just makes the welsh contribution look even worse, what the hell ARE we doing there at all ? For team GB read team ENGLAND.[/p][/quote]Please get your facts straight rather than making lazy statements. Yes it was endorsed by Cameron (English) but also Brown (Scottish) and Blair (English). Ireland (Republic) is an independent country therefore did did not opt as it is nothing to do with this. The Northern Irish, Scottish and Welsh FAs opted out, but admitted they could not stop individual players taking part. Wales is fortunate in that it has many quality players in the overage and underage categories were excited by playing in a major tournament, playing in the olympics and playing for GB. Devon Malcolm
  • Score: 0

7:21pm Wed 4 Jul 12

dereksboy says...

Wot a rubbish article - I thought the Argus had just got rid of one inept sports reporter!
Wot a rubbish article - I thought the Argus had just got rid of one inept sports reporter! dereksboy
  • Score: 0

7:23pm Wed 4 Jul 12

dereksboy says...

Wot a rubbish article - I thought the Argus had just got rid of one inept sports reporter!
Wot a rubbish article - I thought the Argus had just got rid of one inept sports reporter! dereksboy
  • Score: 0

7:46pm Wed 4 Jul 12

the dork says...

Should fieldd a under 20 squad
Should fieldd a under 20 squad the dork
  • Score: 0

10:42pm Wed 4 Jul 12

CM1 says...

Mervyn, what have you been smoking; do you care to pass it around!? I can't recall when I last read claptrap of such a high standard. The fact that you don't know the difference between Northern Ireland and the Republic leaves me needing to say no more on the subject.
Mervyn, what have you been smoking; do you care to pass it around!? I can't recall when I last read claptrap of such a high standard. The fact that you don't know the difference between Northern Ireland and the Republic leaves me needing to say no more on the subject. CM1
  • Score: 0

11:17am Thu 5 Jul 12

Forename Surname says...

Has anyone considered that the English fans might not want a permanent GB team either? We do pretty well qualifying for international tournaments without the help of Wales, Scotland or Ireland, thank you very much (I'm sure Ramsey, Bellamy and Giggs would welcome playing in an international-based tournament once in their careers).

Also, if you're going to be a jingoistic idiot about this you may want to count how many English players are in the Wales squad.

Maybe Swansea, Cardiff, Newport and Wrexham should withdraw from the evil English FA system too - no-one likes a hypocrit do they Michael?
Has anyone considered that the English fans might not want a permanent GB team either? We do pretty well qualifying for international tournaments without the help of Wales, Scotland or Ireland, thank you very much (I'm sure Ramsey, Bellamy and Giggs would welcome playing in an international-based tournament once in their careers). Also, if you're going to be a jingoistic idiot about this you may want to count how many English players are in the Wales squad. Maybe Swansea, Cardiff, Newport and Wrexham should withdraw from the evil English FA system too - no-one likes a hypocrit do they Michael? Forename Surname
  • Score: 0

1:12pm Thu 5 Jul 12

Bush80 says...

Great article Pearlman.

As a Welsh football fan I dont see how its fair 4 of our first team players go to this mickey mouse football tournament with world cup qualifiers just around the corner when England dont risk any of their first teamers! why isnt Rooney there? wheres Joe Hart? wheres Ashley Cole? wheres Steven Gerrard? why should we risk our best players in this? Gary Speed was totally against this tournament and i bet none of the welsh players would of played if he was still alive. show some balls Coleman and ask them to pull out of the squad.

The Olympics is no place for football, basketball and tennis. The olympics should be the pinicle of your sport.
Great article Pearlman. As a Welsh football fan I dont see how its fair 4 of our first team players go to this mickey mouse football tournament with world cup qualifiers just around the corner when England dont risk any of their first teamers! why isnt Rooney there? wheres Joe Hart? wheres Ashley Cole? wheres Steven Gerrard? why should we risk our best players in this? Gary Speed was totally against this tournament and i bet none of the welsh players would of played if he was still alive. show some balls Coleman and ask them to pull out of the squad. The Olympics is no place for football, basketball and tennis. The olympics should be the pinicle of your sport. Bush80
  • Score: 0

2:17am Fri 6 Jul 12

Newport Dave says...

Come on now Bush80, we're talking about Welsh football. Why bring up the world cup?
Having said that, I've been saying for more years than I can remember that we won't qualify, I suppose I'll get it wrong eventually.
Come on now Bush80, we're talking about Welsh football. Why bring up the world cup? Having said that, I've been saying for more years than I can remember that we won't qualify, I suppose I'll get it wrong eventually. Newport Dave
  • Score: 0

10:13am Mon 9 Jul 12

Phil Tanner says...

"Simply put, anyone in favour of losing independent status is in a massive minority."

Agreed, but it isn't really on the agenda and never has been. What might come under pressure at some point is the FAW's guaranteed place on the top FIFA council, which might have been appropriate when we could send a gunboat to sort out Johnny Foreigner but seems outdated now.

The blazers try to scare the gullible by conflating this with a threat to national status, but the bottom line is FIFA and UEFA are franchises with a vested interest in maximising the number of national teams to get bums on seats.
"Simply put, anyone in favour of losing independent status is in a massive minority." Agreed, but it isn't really on the agenda and never has been. What might come under pressure at some point is the FAW's guaranteed place on the top FIFA council, which might have been appropriate when we could send a gunboat to sort out Johnny Foreigner but seems outdated now. The blazers try to scare the gullible by conflating this with a threat to national status, but the bottom line is FIFA and UEFA are franchises with a vested interest in maximising the number of national teams to get bums on seats. Phil Tanner
  • Score: 0

12:20pm Mon 9 Jul 12

Mervyn James says...

Welsh participants are traitors to Welsh football, they give credence to a system that doesn't even recognise Wales. As regards to Ireland a faux pas admitted, but hey they want unity too don't they ? perhaps I am ahead of my time... I certainly will NOT be backing team UK football. Shame on Giggsy.
Welsh participants are traitors to Welsh football, they give credence to a system that doesn't even recognise Wales. As regards to Ireland a faux pas admitted, but hey they want unity too don't they ? perhaps I am ahead of my time... I certainly will NOT be backing team UK football. Shame on Giggsy. Mervyn James
  • Score: 0

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