Does Anyone In Britain Care About the Team GB Olympic Football Squad?

For once it seems that football may take a back seat for Britons this summer, as the Olympic Games come to London.  For a collection of nations that are so fanatical about the Premier League, the SPL and their respective international sides, the Olympic Football has gone somewhat unnoticed and uncared for. The faces of Premier League heroes have been temporarily replaced by athletes, swimmers and cyclists on television sets and billboards across the nation. These are the competitors who will be the stars of the summer games, not the footballers.

Whilst the aforementioned sports should be expected to take centre stage, I find the lack of hype around the football particularly unusual. I wasn’t even aware of the squad announcement until I accidentally stumbled across it online earlier in the week, such is the lack of build up in the UK. Nobody really knew who was going to be in Stuart Pearce’s squad, with the main talking point being whether David Beckham was going to be playing or not. Tickets are still on sale for both the mens and womens football games, whereas most events have sold out after a battle for tickets upon release. Fans up and down the British Isles seem to think a club side and a national side is more than enough to support, with the lack of ticket sales suggesting fans are taking a “thanks, but no thanks” approach to the offer of going out to support Team GB.

It begs the question, why is nobody really that bothered about the GB Olympic football team, or even the olympic football tournament altogether? We should be, shouldn’t we!? The fact that Team GB will field an Olympic Football team for the first time in half a century is a historic moment for the games and Great Britain. Whilst the respective governing bodies of Welsh, Northern Irish and Scottish football have expressed their concern over the inclusion of a GB team and the effect it may have on their autonomy as independent football nations, the accumulation of four nations into one side should be something for Britons to celebrate (in the same way British people get behind the British Lions Rugby tours).

The Olympics also give us the chance to see some of the top young talent emerging from the British Isles playing in a competitive tournament. Experience which could prove crucial for future European Championship and World Cup competitions. Whilst the age restrictions (all but three players must be aged 23 or under) were put in place to prevent the Olympics from taking over the World Cup and the respective continental championships as the premier football tournament, plenty of World Class players have plied their trade in the summer games in the past. Argentinian’s Lionel Messi and Carlos Tevez have both picked up winners medals in the 2008 and 2004 respectively, whilst Nwankwo Kanu and Jay-Jay Okocha burst onto the scene in 1996, helping the Nigerian’s pick up a surprise gold medal. Who’s to say that Tom Cleverly, Aaron Ramsey and Ryan Bertrand may not emerge as a world star next season on the back of a gold medal triumph this summer?

Whilst there will be youngsters taking part in this tournament who will undoubtedly go on to great things, there are plenty of players who will take to the field at the likes of Wembley, Old Trafford and Hampden Park who are already established world stars. Neymar, Hulk, Luis Suarez, Thiago Silva, Juan Mata, David De Gea, Ryan Giggs, Alexandre Pato, Chicharito and Edinson Cavani are just some of the world’s top players that will grace the games this summer. When you look at each of the squads on paper, its difficult to see why the Olympic football is held in such low regard by football fans in Great Britain. These players are household names for even part time followers of football.

Lastly, for football addicts such as myself, the Olympics will provide some competitive action to fill the void nicely after the conclusion of the Euro 2012. And despite what some critics of Olympic football may tell you, it certainly will be a competitve tournament. Group clashes include GB vs Uruguay, Switzerland vs Mexico and Spain vs Japan. Such is the significance of the tournament for Brazil, the talk coming out the country is that manager Mano Menezes could even lose his job if a strong Brazilian squad fails to deliver at the tournament. Team GB manager Stuart Pearce has also signaled his intent for the tournament after leaving out David Beckham after citing that there is no place for sentiment in football, even in the Olympics. Plus, at the end of the day, an Olympic Gold medal is not something to be sniffed at for any professional sportsperson. Picking one up at the end of the summer would be something any player would rank alongside their greatest achievements in the game. As Neymar himself defiantly put it recently “I’ve told the federation president I will be bringing the gold medal back to Brazil.”

Personally, I can’t wait for it to get started.

What are your opinions on the Olympic Football tournament? What players should we look out for? Will any teams prove to be a surprise package?

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24 thoughts on “Does Anyone In Britain Care About the Team GB Olympic Football Squad?”

  1. A young football team with players from England and Wales only out of the 4 regions of “Great Britain” (all the good players are English & Welsh anyways). I will support them, they also will hopefully remain Hodgson free during the Olympics. The teams they will face as they progress are very good, so I think it will be healthy.

    All games are shown with xfinity and NBC networks in combo.

  2. People will say they don’t care but they will watch and follow team GB especially if they advance to the knockout statge. When they get knocked out they will rip the idea and say how big of a waste of time it was.

    1. There is an age limit for players in the Olympics. The limit is 23 years or younger. Each team is allowed 3 players over the age of 23.

  3. How did you not hear the team selection. It made national news in the USA with the David Beckham snub. The following Beckham v Pierce battle. Etc etc. Giggs, giggsey jumpers for goal posts… A Brazil squad that will feature, Neymar, Hulk & Pato up front.
    It is one sport among many… But, it has had more coverage for the games then I remember.

    1. It wasn’t mentioned much at all over here. With the EURO’s, Wimbledon and the British Grand Prix all going on around the same time as the squad announcements, the sporting focus of the nation has been distributed elsewhere. I am sure that will change as the Olympics grow ever closer however

  4. it’s true that in the UK nothing has been made of the squad, I live in the England and have heard nothing about it on the TV and like the writer, I had to search the internet to find out who was in it.
    I am less concerned about this tournament as the squad that has been picked is far from the best that could have been picked. As to why the nation is not that bothered I’m not sure, I suppose it could be a combination of such things as:

    People are used to supporting their individual nations (England, Wales, Scotland)
    The squad is not the best that could have been picked
    We have football as the clear number one 24/7 the rest of the year and therefore people want a break to see other sports/athletes
    The Olympics as far as football is concerned is seen as not very important compared to the Euro’s and World Cup

    The UK/Great Britain is for war, the world stage and the Queen, it has no other purpose and most of the people in England, Scotland and Wales would rather have their own nations without being part of the rest

      1. The Olympics may the on the sporting world stage they are not on the world stage politically, It’s not like Prime Minister Cameron is flying round the world discussing with other world leaders which position Danny Rose is going to playing. I’m sure he’s more concerned about the financial crisis in the eurozone and the huge numbers of unemployed in this country and around the rest of Europe.
        As far as the UK vs individual nations (England, Scotland Wales) in the Olympics, the athletes would still be part of the Olympics they would just have different clothing on and from that point of view it wouldn’t matter to an individual athlete whether they were representing England, Wales or Scotland or whether they were representing Great Britain, if anything I’m sure they would prefer to represent England, Scotland or Wales

          1. LOL what? no way are they unified LOL germany bullied france who then in turn joined germany and bullied the rest of europe over fiscal policy, and from a sporting perspective, they are bitter rivals.

          2. I guess everything has to be spelled out for you. Germany, Italy, and France were at point in history a bunch of states or city states that unifed to created the countries we now know as Germany, Italy, and France.

            And to say that the Scots, Welsh, and English differe in to many ways is bs the Bretons (people from Brittany) are celts and they are part of France.

  5. I will watch most of the matches, like I did in 2008, but I am more interested in watching teams like Brazil (the team they are taking to the Olympics will be their 2014 core squad), Uruguay, Mexico, Spain and even to a lesser extent Japan and Switzerland who have a talented generation coming through.

    Tim Vickery said it the best on BBC, it will be tough for GB, this is a team thrown together quickly and will only train for a few weeks while the Brazilians, Uruguayans etc.. are a team who have been together for a while

  6. England under 19 vs France in the Euro championship final group game, Spurs Harry Kane leading the line, its on eurosport, there are feeds to there on the net! C’mon England

  7. I will watch it if there’s a TV coverage in the US. Sadly, it might not be the case.
    It’ll be nice to watch future stars or promising young players. I remember watching the 1988 Olympics: Romario, Bebeto, Careca, Hassler, Klinsmann and Riedle – 1992 Olympics with Albertini, Melli, Guardiola, and the list goes on.

    1. Most of the games will be on US tv NBC will have spceial channels dedicated to soccer and basketball, as they did in 2008; of course not all cable systems will carry those channels. Plus there will be games on MSNBC and NBC Sports Network

      1. Google is supposed to be streaming every minute of the Olympics. As soon as I get more info and time, I’ll write up a post about it.

        The Gaffer

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