Politics and sports seldom mix, especially when sport is seen as a tool to gain political leverage (either by those using it or those protesting against it).
And when the sport is as widespread and as passionate as football, with the politics as acrimonious and divisive as those of Great Britain, mixing the two is a bad, bad idea – not as bad as the 2012 Olympics logo (above), but nearing the same lengths of ridiculous head-in-the-sand behavior.
With London hosting the 2012 Olympics, should there be a Team GB or a Team England to represent the host nation?
There are several questions that are being asked, such whether Team GB stands a better chance of winning a medal than Team England, or whether FIFA will push GB to put out a unified team for all international competitions after the 2012 Olympics.
But the core issue isn’t about football, it’s politics. England wants to present a happy, united front. Scotland couldn’t care less, Wales aren’t bothered and Northern Ireland don’t fancy the English too much either.
Even if you leave aside the internal political squabbling (especially between Scotland and England), England asking the Scots, Welsh and the Irish to come together for a common cause is the political equivalent of Russia going to the Uzbeks and Kazakhs and asking them to unite the football teams for Moscow 2024 (or whenever). Or India asking Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh to put out a united football team for the Olympics. Or the US asking Mexico and Canada to subsume their national football teams into one grand North American footballing giant for greater glory.
England’s backing of the Team GB agenda is seen as evidence that the big bully in the neighborhood is trying to take control of their lives again. It’s on a subconscious level and it might be unfounded, but that fear and resistance will be there and nothing England or FIFA can say will remove it.
Politics and football don’t mix, especially when the football is for political purposes and the political buzzword is independence. In fact, the more England pushes the Team GB agenda, the more you can expect elements in Scotland and elsewhere to vocalize their dislike for the politics of GB and ask for autonomy.
Still want a Team GB, Lord Moynihan?