Chris O (follow on Twitter: @COakleyFtbl)
Sat 28 July 2007

GB or not GB?

Whether you knew it or not, yesterday was a notable date in the sporting calendar. Why? Because exactly five years on from July 27th 2007, the 2012 Olympic Games will begin in London.

Those of us living in London are by now aware of the plans which are well underway to build or upgrade the venues for each event, to say nothing of encouraging ordinary people to take up a sport which, five years down the line, they might even represent Great Britain in.

One event which should be of interest to the British is the Men's Soccer tournament. The trouble is that Great Britain haven't had a team of its own taking part since 1960. This is because the constituent parts of Great Britain, i.e. England, Scotland, Wales along with Northern Ireland, are all represented individually within FIFA. If they played together as a combined Great Britain team in the Olympics, FIFA would suggest they do so for all competitions.

This is something the four British nations would be reluctant to do. As things currently stand, they each have a guaranteed position as Vice President of the FIFA Management Committee and make up half of the International Football Association Board - the body that annually reviews the laws of the game.

The thing is, Great Britain, as hosts of the 2012 Olympics, would be expected to field a team in as many of the events it would be staging - including the Soccer tournament. What's the solution then?

Well some say there should be a tournament before the Olympics begin where the winning team from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should represent Great Britain as a unit in the Games. It seems not entirely satisfactory, but with the approval of all four parties, it might just work.

Certainly Scotland have pulled out of any plan that would see a Great Britain team made up of players from all four countries, so something needs to be done. If you have any ideas, send them to us at and we'll feed them back to you before forwarding them on to FIFA and the IOC. Possibly.

Meantime, it's good fun to think about which players would feature in a 'perfect' Great Britain team. So many great players and so much talent - it could easily be a side that would give the Brazils and Italys a run for their money in this day and age.

Overlooking the real-world technicalities for putting together an Olympic football team (i.e. all except three of the players must be under the age of 23), let's consider who would be in your Great Britain line-up if you had the chance to pick it.

We've put together a list* of all the squad players from the last three international matches played by England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and what you must do is pick those that you'd have in your Great Britain XI. To make the exercise a little more interesting, we impose one rule: that you must represent each of the four countries with at least two players.

Download the list and have a go. Once you've picked your team, leave us a comment detailing who's in it with perhaps a brief description of why you've picked them. (Oh and before any of you say so, Ryan Giggs isn't included on account of the fact that he's now retired from international football. Sorry about that...)

Well don't just sit there - what are you waiting for?!? :-)

* In Adobe PDF format. To download the Adobe PDF Reader, click here.

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