One Game; One Event; One Nation; One Team

Steven WoodgateCorrespondent INovember 9, 2008

Tory leader David Cameron has foolishly suggested that the football team to represent Britain at the 2012 London Olympics should be decided by a home nation’s tournament.

If Cameron knew anything about sport or patriotism he may understand why this is a bad idea.

I understand that the football governing bodies of Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland would want to protect their independence but for the sake of a one-off event, they should look aside.

If worse, comes to worse the Olympic team should be unquestionably English. It is London 2012 and the thought of no English participant in the team frightens me.

People from Scotland are Scottish, from England they are English etc. but for the Olympics and as a government, we are united.

For an event that occurs every four years it should be deemed reasonable we merge to become one and have a team that is not only competitive but to be proud of for the whole of Great Britain. Britain has not had a team in the Olympics since 1960 and it is wrong that the game we gave to the world is not contested by our patriotic state.

FIFA should promise those nations independence and respect that they are individual nations in the football world and should not be punished for wanting to protect their own football identity.

Sir Alex Ferguson has already been touted by Lord Sebastian Coe to manage the Olympics team and it would be good that a break in the normal Premier League season occurs to give Britain every chance to win a gold medal.

Olympic Football is not seen as the pinnacle of football as, rightly, the World Cup is seen as the biggest football event. Every footballer out there dreams about playing with or against the world’s best, which happens only at the World Cup.

Unfortunately, in the Olympics massive amounts of talent is missing and professional clubs like Barcelona reluctantly allow their players to participate.

If Britain wants a squad full of a talent to compete at the Olympics, surely it is up to FIFA to allow this to happen. Football should be given the respect it deserves and the Olympics are the most respected competition in the world.

There should not be a home nations scrap to find which country should play, there should be a team that is the best available to the state of Great Britain.

It would not be a joke.

We can finally hear something more sincere about an Englishman, a Scotsman, and an Irishman in a pub. The punch line: Together supporting their united team in a chance to win a gold medal.