Since the announcement of London's successful bid, debate has ensued
over whether Great Britain will enter a team in the Olympic Football
Tournament. The FA has expressed optimism that a deal can be struck,
while FIFA President Sepp Blatter has insisted that competing in 2012
would not affect the separate status of the home nations. The Scottish,
Welsh and Northern Irish FA's have been less welcoming of any such
proposal, with the SFA commenting that they were "strongly opposed" to
anything that threatens their separate identity.
Despite not entering since 1971, GB actually has a good record in the
event - they lie second in the overall medal table. However, rarely has
an actual 'British' team participated- in 1900 the Gold Medal was won
by GB's representatives 'Upton Park FC', in 1908 it was the England
team who triumphed and the last attempt at qualification in 1971 was
made by a team consisting of English amateurs.
Now that professionals may participate it is likely that GB would be
among the favourites for gold, and the attraction of the team from a
purely sporting perspective seduces many. One suspects, however, that
it will take more to persuade the associations to participate.
Undoubtedly the question of financial benefits will arise, and the
smaller associations may find it difficult to resist the lure of
hosting a high-profile Olympic match. Just imagine the hype that would
surround a GB v Brazil Olympic semi-final at Hampden, or a quarter
final at the Millennium Stadium...