MICHAEL PEARLMAN SAYS: Team GB football is a farce

10:30am Tuesday 3rd July 2012

By Michael Pearlman

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...


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