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Opposition to Team GB grows

The London Olympics will include a GB football team for the first time in 52 years. Team GB plans to enter both male and female teams to play on home turf next year.

While many football fans see this as an exciting and historical moment in British sport, with a frenzied clamour for tickets as soon as they went on sale, it has caused plenty of controversy, with a growing number of fans and people within football opposing the GB football team.

The Welsh, Scottish and Irish football associations are worried that Team GB will affect how they are perceived by FIFA.

With the English FA taking in the lead in the formation of Team GB's football squad, the other home nations are concerned that this will affect their independence in FIFA organised tournaments, such as the World Cup and next year's Euro 2012 tournament. In a joint statement, released in June, they explained this that stance was "principally to protect the identity of each national association".

The FA claims that an 'historic agreement' was made to allow players from each team to play. However the joint statement said that no such agreement had taken place.

FIFA were keen to avoid a clash

Wales captain Aaron Ramsay is one of many players who have embraced the move. He Tweeted: "Relax everyone, there is no way I would play if it was going to affect Wales's identity as an individual nation!"

As Euro 2012 is also taking place next year, FIFA wanted to exclude all players over the age of 21 from competing. They had hoped to avoid clashes between the two major tournaments.

But the International Olympic Committee was against this restriction and set the upper age limit at 23. The committee has allowed each team to field up to three 'over age' players. This means that while many of Britain's footballing legends will be excluded, some stars, such as David Beckham, might be able to represent Great Britain next summer.

Online ticket agency www.getmein.com reports that Team GB football tickets were in higher demand than tickets for many of the more traditional Olympic events. But fan site NoTeamGB.com has been set up in opposition of the Olympic team. It has released an array of anti-Olympic press releases.

These fans feel that "such a move toward a joint team could severely jeopardise the independent status of the four Home Associations," - adding: "All four associations have a proud tradition of very long standing which fans from the four countries wish to retain and any move toward a joint team is seen a major threat to this status."

'Nonsensical'

Prominent Sky broadcaster Jeff Stelling is also set against the event. He told the Independent that an Olympic football was 'nonsensical' - and believes the Games should stick to track and field events.

While this is going on behind the scenes, many high profile players are getting behind the event. Beckham has already stated that he would be 'honoured' to be asked to play as an 'over-ager'. Wales and Tottenham star Gareth Bale (pictured) has also given team GB his support, posing for a photo shoot in the official kit.

Football isn't the only sport to consider the implications of mixing up home nations teams. Other sports have done it successfully.

Rugby is probably the best example of this with the British Lions taking part in international tours regularly. The Lions often play rugby powerhouses such as South Africa and New Zealand, while the home nations are kept separate for tournaments such as the World Cup and Six Nations.

Cricket also sees a joint effort between the Home Nations. The England cricket team is actually representative of England and Wales. The only Welsh county cricket team, Glamorgan, often provides Welsh players with a platform from which to launch their England cricket career.


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