13 Dec 2008

Political backlash against united team for Olympics

8:15 pm on 13 December 2008

The possibility of Great Britain fronting a united soccer team at the 2012 Olympic Games is creating a major political backlash in Scotland.

Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland all have their own teams for major international competitions and all those nations have qualified for the World Cup at some stage.

Scottish Secretary in the UK Parliament, Jim Murphy, recently gained assurances from the sport's governing body, Fifa, that a one-off under-23 squad in 2012 would not impact on the home teams' standings.

But quotes attributed to Fifa president Sepp Blatter suggest otherwise.

Former Scotland manager Craig Brown has revealed he is to front a 'No To Team GB' petition within Scottish football.

He told the BBC's Gaelic language channel in Scotland that he takes a strong stance against a GB team, saying: "I don't trust Fifa."

Brown says he believes Fifa is trying to streamline the game because of the number of national teams that emerged in the 1990s following the break-up of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia.

His comments come ahead of the launch of a campaign opposing plans to create an all-British football team for the London Games.

The Scottish Football Association has indicated opposition to a British team as have the governing bodies of Wales and Northern Ireland. The Republic of Ireland is not affected.

A petition, entitled "Save Scottish Football", will be launched by Brown and the Scottish National Party's Christine Grahame this weekend.

Ms Grahame, convener of the Scottish Parliament's health and sport committee, said: "The threat posed by the creation of a GB football team goes way beyond football and if Fifa carries out the action outlined by their president just last year then that would have a catastrophic social and economic impact in Scotland as well as killing off the football in Scotland as we know it.

"No one, bar a handful of politically-motivated zealots in London, wants a GB football team precisely because they recognise the huge threat this poses."