I realise that I talk a lot about domestic football on here, specifically Manchester United and the Premier League, but I am also a big fan of our national side and 2012 is going to be a big year for them too. Things are a little different this year, however, because we effectively have two international football teams – England and Team GB, competing in Euro 2012 and the London 2012 Olympic Games respectively. This has never happened before because we haven’t entered the football competition in the Olympics since 1972 – the first year that footballers were able to turn professional in the UK. But with London hosting the 2012 Olympics, it’s time for a change.
There has been a bit of discussion over who should play in the Team GB side. Great Britain is officially made up, as we all know, of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, so it would seem natural that players from all four nations form the team. The Scottish, Welsh and Northern-Irish football authorities didn’t want to take part in discussions, however, so it looks like it’s been left to England to field a side. Whether players from the other nations will be eligible to be selected – Ryan Giggs from Wales, for example – isn’t clear at the moment. As with most things in football, it’s a bit complicated.
What we do know is that it’s an under-23 competition but three players over 23 are allowed to be in the team, which is why there’s been a bit of hype around David Beckham playing. The squad hasn’t been selected yet though, so we’ll have to wait and see.
The other national side, England, which, of course, only contains players with English heritage, are playing in Euro 2012, which kicks off on the 8 June 2012, just over a month before the start of the Olympics. It’s being played in Poland and Ukraine and, as ever, hopes are high. Or at least they are for some people – I’ll just be happy if we get past the group stages without too much embarrassment.