United Kingdom national football team

United Kingdom national football team

Infobox National football team
Name = United Kingdom
Badge_size = 91px
FIFA Trigramme = N/A
Association = British Olympic Association
Coach = "None appointed"
Captain = "None appointed"
Most caps = ???
Top scorer = ???
FIFA Rank = N/A
First game = flagicon|UK UK 12 - 1 Sweden flagicon|Sweden (London, UK; 20 October 1908)
Largest win = flagicon|UK UK 12 - 1 Sweden flagicon|Sweden (London, UK; 20 October 1908)
Largest loss = flagicon|Bulgaria Bulgaria 6 - 1 UK flagicon|UK (Melbourne, Australia; 30 November 1956)
Regional name = Olympic Games
Regional cup apps = 8
Regional cup first = 1900
Regional cup best = Gold, 1900, 1908 and 1912
A United Kingdom national football team would represent the United Kingdom (UK) in football though no United Kingdom team currently exists, as there are separate teams representing England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland instead. These national teams compete in the World Cup and European Championships and other internationals.

A UK team has played in a few friendly matches, and from 1900 to 1972 a team competed in the Olympic Games, but there has not been a UK team since 1972. The British Olympic Association have stated that a UK team will be formed to compete in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, [http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/other_sports/olympics_2012/5394710.stm 'GB football team to enter Games'] , BBC Sport, 30 September 2006.] although this proposal has met resistance from the Scottish Football Association in particular.


Football was codified in England. There were representative international matches between England and Scotland as far back as 1872, before the sport spread to other parts of the world. The Home Nations' professional teams tended to play amongst themselves. England did not play opposition from outside the United Kingdom until 1908 [ [http://www.rsssf.com/tablese/eng-intres.html England international results] . Nygård, Jostein; RSSSF, 5 June 2005. Retrieved on 2006-07-05] and nor did Scotland until 1929 [ [http://www.rsssf.com/tabless/scot-intres.html Scotland international results] . Nygård, Jostein; RSSSF, 9 June 2006. Retrieved on 2006-07-05.] . None of the Home Nations took part in a World Cup until 1950 because they had withdrawn from FIFA over disputes regarding the payment to amateur players and did not rejoin until 1946.

England has been the only team to have any major success internationally, winning the 1966 World Cup. Scotland have never progressed beyond the group stage of any international tournament, despite competing in final tournaments of eight World Cups and two European Championships. Northern Ireland have not qualified for a finals tournament since 1986, and Wales since 1958. This is sometimes raised as an argument in favour of a single United Kingdom national team, citing the advantages of being able to call upon an extended pool of players.

Based on statistical analysis of recent matches, it has been estimated that a United Kingdom national team would have had a one-third greater chance of winning the 2006 World Cup than England did at the tournament's outset [ [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,542-2226137,00.html "The Auld Opponent"] . "The Times". 15 June 2006. Retrieved on 2006-07-05.] . Opponents of the plan argue that the existing footballing identities of the fans of the Home Nations should not be sacrificed simply to stand a better chance of success.

There has been limited support for the creation of a permanent British national team. Although often hypothetical in nature, such a proposal has been put forward by prominent government ministers, including Jack Straw [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/britain/article/0,2763,404368,00.html "Red card for Straw's 'British team' idea"] . Travis, Alan; "The Guardian", 29 November 2000. Retrieved on 2006-07-05.] and Tony Banks. [http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4153/is_20000508/ai_n11930604 "'Jerusalem' to spur England to Euro 2000 promised land"] . Harris, Ed; "Evening Standard", 8 May 2000. Retrieved on 2006-07-05.]

Olympic team

Until 1972

In the past, there has been a United Kingdom team in the Olympic football tournament, although, as the UK competes under the name of 'Great Britain and Northern Ireland' at the Olympics, the football team is usually known as 'Great Britain' within this context.

The United Kingdom, then competing under the name 'the United Kingdom' at the 1908 Summer Olympics, won the gold medal in the first official football tournament at the 1908 Games, beating Sweden, the Netherlands, and Denmark. [ [http://www.rsssf.com/tableso/ol1908f.html Games of the IV Olympiad] . Aarhus, Lars; RSSSF, 15 October 1999. Retrieved on 2006-07-05.] These teams were predominantly made up of players from the English national amateur team, and were organised by the The Football Association with the acquiescence of the other Home Nations' FAs. [http://www.thefa.com/TheFA/NewsFromTheFA/Postings/2004/03/Wembley_Olympic_bid.htm "Britain's Olympic past"] . Barber, David; The Football Association, 3 March 2004. Retrieved on 2006-07-05.] The United Kingdom has not competed in the Olympic football tournament since 1972, when they were knocked out in the qualifying rounds by Bulgaria. The last occasion on which a Great Britain and Northern Ireland team reached the Olympic finals was the 1960 Games. After the Football Association scrapped the distinction between professional and amateur players in 1974, no more UK Olympic teams were entered.

1972 to 2008

Since 1972, Olympic rules have been relaxed to allow professionals to take part, but no UK team has been entered. Each of the Home Nations enter the European Under–21 Championship, which functions as the European qualifying competition for the Olympics. This means that a United Kingdom team cannot qualify, although there have been examples in the past where an individual home nation would have qualified if there had been a place available.

The British Olympic Association initially refused to rule out the possibility of entry for the 2008 Summer Olympics, [ [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,27-1868695,00.html "Britain looks to Beijing after Scotland's snub to 2012 Games"] . Goodbody, John; "The Times", 12 November 2005. Retrieved on 2006-07-05.] but a team was not entered. England qualified for the Olympics by reaching the semi-finals of the 2007 Under–21 Championship, but Italy took their vacated place by winning a play-off match against Portugal. The England women's team also qualified for the 2008 Olympics, through their performance in the 2007 World Cup. They were denied a place at the Olympics, however, because the other three Home Nations refused to give their consent. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/women/7127341.stm Caborn blasts women's Games snub] , BBC Sport, 4 December 2007.]

London 2012

Due to London's successful bid for the 2012 Summer Olympics, a United Kingdom team would qualify as of right of being the host nation. The British Olympic Association has stated it will enter a UK team into the 2012 Olympics. The proposal for a UK team was initially supported by the FA in England and the Northern Irish FA, but the Scottish Football Association refused even to attend meetings at which the Home Nations were to discuss the possibility. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/4426566.stm No Scots for GB Olympic football] , BBC Sport, 11 November 2005.] At those meetings, the Football Association of Wales stressed it was strongly against the proposal. The FAW Council then voted to withdraw from the negotiations. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/internationals/4427504.stm Wales oppose GB Olympic football] , BBC Sport, 6 December 2005.]

In October 2007 the Northern Irish FA also announced that they would not take part in a unified team either, leaving England as the only Association willing to take part. Despite the opposition of three of the Home Nations, opinion polls have shown majority support for of the creation of a team for the 2012 Olympics. [ [http://football.guardian.co.uk/News_Story/0,1563,1595965,00.html "Survey shows Scots back united Olympic team"] . Mackay, Duncan; "The Guardian", 20 October 2005. Retrieved on 2006-07-05.] A joint statement issued by the official fan clubs of all four Home Nations voiced their opposition to the plan, however. [ [http://www.tartanarmyclubs.com/press_olympics.htm Fans Groups Oppose GB Oplympic Team] Association of Tartan Army Clubs; 1 October 2006. Retrieved on 2007-09-29.]

Scottish manager Sir Alex Ferguson has been offered the job of coaching the team, but it is unknown if he will accept. [Dickinson, Matt. [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/football/article3463358.ece Lord Coe lines up Alex Ferguson to take charge of British Olympic side] , "The Times", 1 March 2008.]

Position of FIFA

The position of FIFA, football's international governing body, is seen as critical as to whether a British team will play in the 2012 Summer Olympics. The SFA's opposition to the plans are rooted primarily in the fear that the Home Nations would be forced to field a combined team in all competitions. This would mean the loss of the special status of the Home Nations, which is established under FIFA's constitution. [PDFlink| [http://www.fifa.com/mm/document/affederation/federation/fifa%5fstatutes%5f0719%5fen%5f14479.pdf FIFA Statutes] |6.67 MB. FIFA, 12 September 2005. Retrieved on 2006-07-05.] FIFA President Sepp Blatter had given assurances to each of the British Associations that their status would not be affected by fielding a combined team in 2012, stating:cquote|We have confirmed in writing that they have to provide a Great Britain team for the 2012 Olympics, but the four British associations will not lose the rights and privileges acquired back in 1947. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/internationals/4206540.stm Smith 'excited' by Olympic team] , BBC Sport, 2 September 2005.]

The SFA refused to change its position, arguing that Blatter's personal opinion and permission may not matter once he has left office, and that they do not wish to jeopardise their status. The case for the UK team appeared to be strengthened by the decision of the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball to permit a combined volleyball team to participate at the 2012 Games, [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/other_sports/olympics_2012/6080378.stm British volleyball team for 2012] , BBC Sport, 27 October 2006.] but Blatter seemed to change his view in March 2008. He stated that "they should enter only a team composed of players from England", and he suggested that the independent status of the four British associations could be harmed by a unified team. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/olympics/football/7286011.stm Blatter against British 2012 team] , BBC Sport, 9 March 2008.]

UEFA chief executive David Taylor, a former chief executive of the SFA, said in August 2008 that a British Olympic team would threaten the existence of the individual home nations. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/internationals/7586869.stm Uefa chief warns against GB team] , BBC Sport, 28 August 2008.] Taylor also said that the unique status of the Home Nations had come under attack before from other FIFA members, and that it was "difficult to see what guarantees could be given" to protect that status.

Political input

Various prominent politicians have offered their opinion as to whether there should be a British team in the 2012 Olympics. Prime Minister Gordon Brown stated during the 2008 Olympics that he wanted a British team and would work towards that happening, although he acknowledged that it could affect the autonomy of the Home Nations. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/olympics/7579487.stm Brown pays tribute to GB success] , BBC Sport, 24 August 2008.] First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond then stated his opposition to a British team, arguing that Brown must be "seriously out of touch with Scotland" to support it. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/7580113.stm Salmond rejects UK football team] , BBC News, 25 August 2008.]

Friendly results

In addition to matches at the Summer Olympics, the Home Nations have previously united to play two friendly internationals against 'Rest of Europe' representative sides. On both occasions, they included all four Home Nations: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Despite Northern Ireland's participation, both matches were played under the name of 'Great Britain'.

*10 May 1947; Hampden Park, Glasgow: Great Britain 6–1 Rest of Europe
*13 August 1955; Windsor Park, Belfast: Great Britain 1–4 Rest of Europe [http://www.englandfootballonline.com/TeamHons/HonsRepTms.html England Player Honours - International Representative Teams] . England Football Online, 14 February 2005. Retrieved on 2006-07-05.]

1947: the Match of the Century

The 1947 game, dubbed the 'Match of the Century', was played to celebrate the return of the Home Nations to FIFA (they had left in 1920). For the match, played at Scotland's Hampden Park in front of 135,000 spectators, the Great Britain side wore a navy blue strip in honour of the host association. The gate receipts, totalling £35,000, helped boost the finances of FIFA, which had been damaged by the lack of competition during World War II. [ [http://www.fifa.com/en/history/history/0,1283,4,00.html History of FIFA] . FIFA. Retrieved on 2006-07-13.] On that occasion, the Great Britain team consisted of::Frank Swift (England), George Hardwick (England), Billy Hughes (Wales), Archie Macaulay (Scotland), Jackie Vernon (Ireland), Ron Burgess (Wales), Stanley Matthews (England), Wilf Mannion (England), Tommy Lawton (England), Billy Steel (Scotland), Billy Liddell (Scotland). [cite book | last = Norman | first = Giller | title = Football And All That | edition = | year = 2004 | publisher = Hodder & Stoughton | location = London | id = ISBN 0-340-83589-3 | pages = pp. 115-116 ]

1955: Irish FA's anniversary

The 1955 game was played to celebrate the Irish Football Association's seventy-fifth anniversary. For this reason, the match was held at Belfast's Windsor Park, and the British team took to the field wearing Northern Ireland's green strip. The Great Britain team fielded comprised::Jack Kelsey (Wales), Peter Sillett (England), Joe McDonald (Scotland), Danny Blanchflower (Northern Ireland), John Charles (Wales), Bertie Peacock (Northern Ireland), Stanley Matthews (England), Bobby Johnstone (Scotland), Roy Bentley (England), Jimmy McIlroy (Northern Ireland), Billy Liddell (Scotland).

Other matches

Two other games were played between Wales and a team representing the rest of the United Kingdom, with players from England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. The first match, in 1955, commemorated the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Football Association of Wales. The second match, in 1969, commemorated the investiture of the Prince of Wales. In both cases, the united team played under the name of 'Rest of the United Kingdom'.

*3 December 1951; Ninian Park, Cardiff: Wales 3–2 Rest of the United Kingdom
*21 July 1969; Ninian Park, Cardiff: Wales 0–1 Rest of the United Kingdom


External links

* [http://www.noteamgb.com/ NoTeamGB.com] , A pressure group that is opposed to a United Kingdom team.

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