Did Team GB Diss Scotland and Northern Ireland with No Olympic Soccer Spots?
When manager Stuart Pearce selected the Team GB roster for the 2012 Summer Olympics, he took heat for leaving out superstar and London 2012 ambassador David Beckham. However, after looking at the actual list, another big exclusion jumped off the page.
No players from outside of England and Wales were picked.
“From the offset, when I sat down with the (Football Association) chairman David Bernstein, some time before Christmas, he offered me the opportunity to pick the squad," Pearce said to The Independent (see link above). “Right through this process I have had carte blanche to pick whatever players I regard as best. I do enough hours watching matches, and I think I've done due diligence on all the players here.”
When he put together his final list, Pearce had selected 13 Englishmen and five Welshmen, including over-age Ryan Giggs. In that same interview with The Independent, Pearce said he didn’t know how many from each nation he picked.
“[Those] 18 players are all Olympians now, and that's the only way I view them,” he said.
And that’s the way they should be viewed. They represent Great Britain now, not England or Wales.
If Pearce is putting together a squad that is supposed to compete for a gold medal, he needs to have the ability to pick the best players. He didn’t think any Scottish or Northern Irish players were good enough to be selected over the players he picked.
It’s hard to argue with him.
Neither Scotland nor Northern Ireland have impressed on the international stage at the under-21 level recently, and their football associations’ political pressures of not combining all four Home Nations teams for fear of FIFA insisting they do the same for the World Cup didn’t help their case for inclusion.
However, FIFA president Sepp Blatter has assured officials that no FIFA pressure would follow a combined Olympic team, and Pearce has said that politics didn’t play a role in his selection.
Still, it’s not worth forcing him to include a token Scotsman or Northern Irishman, especially if he were to make them ride the bench for the entire tournament.
Talk about insulting.
In the end, Pearce didn’t disrespect Scotland and Northern Ireland. It would have been more of an insult if officials felt the need to make him include players from those nations.
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