‘Team GB’ in tatters?
Countries have their own way of showing national pride. No matter how diverse a population may be, sport can have an immense effect in uniting citizens of any country. Specifically, […]
Countries have their own way of showing national pride. No matter how diverse a population may be, sport can have an immense effect in uniting citizens of any country. Specifically, participation in any Olympic event is one of the surest ways to produce a national rally of support for one’s country, even if it’s just for a few short hours of a match.
For UK football however, the long existing rivalries between the four nations and their respective football federations have created divisions proving too deep to reconcile. As host of the 2012 Olympics, the United Kingdom’s Olympic Association has sparked controversy over their attempt at fielding a ‘British’ football team. When the association announced in June that ‘Team GB’ will represent England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales in this summer’s Olympic games, there was outcry from the devolved regions. If the four nations cannot forget their rivalries to represent Great Britain on the world stage, what greater implications exist regarding the cultural unity between the four nations of the British Isles?
In investigating just how these deep rivalries within sport have shaped attitudes about nationalism in the UK, I took to the streets of St Andrews to see what my fellow Scottish students had to say about it. I spoke to two avid football fans, both with opposing views on what to do about the controversial ‘Team GB’. Rory Grey, a second year International Relations student from Edinburgh supports the national Olympic team, telling me, “Why should football be different than any other sport? If the UK can field a basketball team, why not football? After all, isn’t the UK the home of the game?”
Alternatively, I spoke with Marc Murray of Aberdeen, a fourth year studying Economics and International Relations, who passionately told me he would rather see Britain not field any Olympic team than see his Scotland players play alongside players from England. Besides, he tells me, “No one cares about Olympic football, it’s international football. The World Cup, that matters.”
At the present time, the British Olympic association believes the only way to avoid outrage is to create an Olympic football team comprised entirely of English players. While debate within the world of sport ensues, underlying tensions between the four nations continue to exist, threatening the very future of the unity of Great Britain and its institutions.
What do you think about the prospects of a British Olympic football team?
Written by Julianne Funk, grandstand writer