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UK football team should be created to reconcile ‘bitter divisions’ between nations says Times sports columnist

23 Mar 2022 2 minute read
The last time Great Britain fielded a men’s football team at the 2012 Olympics. Picture by Gerry Balding (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

A UK football team should be created to reconcile the “bitter divisions” between the different nations of the UK, a Times sports columnist has said.

Matthew Syed argued that “football is unusually important in fomenting and expressing a sense of national identity” and asked whether he was alone in wanting the international game to be “a source of shared pride rather than (often) bitter division?”

“Is it not fascinating that, during an age when our Union seems under some long-term threat and with constituent nationalisms on the rise, we are the only officially recognised political jurisdiction on earth that is divided by football?” he asked.

Unlike the Olympics which were “triumphs that we could celebrate together, cherish together, remember together,” he said that “football does not and cannot play this unifying role”.

“During the late 1990s and beyond, I always felt despondent that Ryan Giggs wasn’t eligible to fill the gaping hole on the left of midfield for a united British team,” he said.

“Yes — we would have been better together.”

‘Like combining Rangers and Celtic’

The column drew a predictably negative response from Welsh football fans, with Welsh broadcaster Elis James responding to say that he “profoundly disagreed at every level”.

Even an occasional British team would “would severely weaken our status as an independent football nation (and Scotland and Northern Ireland’s status as well). Plenty in FIFA resent our position on IFAB, and would like to see us compete as Team GB. This has been brought up since the early 1970s.”

Paddy Daley noted that “you cannot buy, copy, borrow or transfer” the “emotion” of supporting Wales to a British team.

Twitter user ‘Sei’ said: “The use of ‘we’ here is quite a tell, isn’t it? This is saying ‘imagine our team, England, could have nabbed somebody from another country to sort out that problem position.'”

Jem Tynrhos suggested different combinations. “I’d like to see an England France team … or an England Germany team…. imagine how great it could be.”

Charles Davies added, “What about combining Rangers and Celtic, and Man United and Man City?”


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Arfon
Arfon
4 months ago

What a daft idea. It is the unfair Union of England running the show that has created divisions in the first place. Why should well regarded Welsh fans be tarred by the reputation if England fans. The only benefit of a GB team would be to detoxify the brand . That is up to them not to Welsh football which is happy and successful as an independent footballing nation.

Philip Jones
Philip Jones
4 months ago
Reply to  Arfon

Arfon it’s not a daft idea – it’s a sinister one. Lots of this unionist crap going on. Wait until the queen pops off then it’ll happen big time

Richard
Richard
4 months ago
Reply to  Philip Jones

Quite right – the current monarch enjoys wide respect for her years of tolerating the places to go and things to do the HMG ‘ asks ‘ of her.

Once she leaves the stage the questions will start on Cost , purpose and future need for a working monarchy with castles, land and countless properties or whether a republic model , Nordic monarchy or executive president is needed.

In Wales and Scotland we need a national conversation on the type and purpose of what we feels serves our nations needs.

Hogyn y Gogledd
Hogyn y Gogledd
4 months ago

My second and last word on this idea is “off”.

Erisian
Erisian
4 months ago

My fourth and final is “die”.

Mark
Mark
4 months ago

From what I’ve read and listened to most Welsh Olympics sportspeople would rather wear yr ddraig goch than the butchers apron, they might be part of team gb, but they’re doing it foe Wales, as for a UK Fc it would be inglish management, inglish trainers, 11 inglish players and a reserve from each of the other nations, all based in ingland.

Gareth
Gareth
4 months ago
Reply to  Mark

That last paragraph is remarkably like the GB womens football team at the London Olympics, 18 players, 0 from Cymru, 2 from Scotland 16 from England, the coach and manager from England, what a surprise that was, lol.

Last edited 4 months ago by Gareth
Gareth W
Gareth W
4 months ago

What a silly idea. I think we should compete in the Olympics as independent nations, I actually never watch the olympics because I don’t feel I have any connection with team GB. They fly the English Jack and sing the English national anthem at the ceremonies.

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
4 months ago
Reply to  Gareth W

Exactly,

Where is team USSR today ?

Erisian
Erisian
4 months ago

Queuing for bread?

Ieuan Evans
Ieuan Evans
4 months ago

And pigs can fly

tired of this
tired of this
4 months ago

I love it when these people casually say something like “our Union”. OK, show your working, who is the ‘we’ represented by ‘our’? Are you just assuming that it is a majority vote? Or just writing to an English audience? In which case, no matter how you look at it, ‘the Union’ is owned by England. And we need to remember our place. By the way the idea of a GB team is rubbish.

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
4 months ago
Reply to  tired of this

The UK are certainly trying to do the Putin on Wales.

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
4 months ago

I’d like to think that this is just naivety but it is yet another attempt to eradicate our national identity which already doesn’t exist in the mind of this writer. He should ask England fans first how THEY would feel about having the name ‘England’ wiped off the world football map. Good luck with that one.

Martin Owen
Martin Owen
4 months ago

I am pleased Mathew Seyd recognises that there are bitter divisions. Would it be better for him use his journalistic talent to work out why there is so much bitterness and division rather than explore ways of papering over the cracks?

Last edited 4 months ago by Martin Owen
Djesus
Djesus
4 months ago

If this were to happen i would honestly shoot myself

Welsh_Siôn
Welsh_Siôn
4 months ago
Reply to  Djesus

Can you dishonestly shoot yourself? 😉

(Sorry – couldn’t resist! Regular readers should know what my viewpoint on the above idea is … And I’ve had a hard day, so far.)

Djesus
Djesus
4 months ago
Reply to  Welsh_Siôn

I will do a Kurt Cobain my friend

Arwyn
Arwyn
4 months ago

UK Unionism predominantly benefits the Tory party who maintain political hegemony of the State. They have become predominantly an Anglo-British Nationalist party. This needs to be shoved back in the faces of so-called conservative (from my perspective they are dangerous radicals) commentators. Britain is a diverse island, home to a plurality of nations. The twisted Tory narrative of our history informs their dreadful chauvinism towards Welsh self-determination. It is that awful perspective that drives division. The constructive way forward is to build a confederation of sovereign nation states on the island of Britain. That’s not division. That’s equal cooperation between… Read more »

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
4 months ago
Reply to  Arwyn

Would not a federation of Europe democracies be better?

Arwyn
Arwyn
4 months ago

Looking at Benelux and the Nordic Union, there’s no reason why both could not coexist.

Gareth
Gareth
4 months ago

I would like to hear the reaction of English fans, if he were to propose the unification of the 2 Manchester teams, or Liverpoll and Everton to combine toform one team in each city, and all the other English cities. I bet it would not take long for an attack on his personal property by those fans. What a silly man.

Stuart Cane
Stuart Cane
4 months ago

We all know the views of the Welsh fans!

I’d love to hear how many England fans would support the idea of getting rid of their cherished team that won the World Cup in 1966. Can’t believe this idea has come from a football fan!

Rob
Rob
4 months ago
Reply to  Stuart Cane

A lot of people in England see the UK and England as if they are the same thing. They use the British anthem, chant ‘Rule Britannia’ and some still fly Union Jacks over St Georges Cross. If a UK football team was created it would probably be the current England squad with Bale and Ramsey included. I think there would be far more objections to such a proposal in Scotland and Wales than there would be in England.

Stuart Cane
Stuart Cane
4 months ago
Reply to  Rob

I agree – suspect the press and fans would still call the team England like they do with the cricket team!

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
4 months ago
Reply to  Stuart Cane

It’s strange. You don’t hear the same calls when England’s doing well in tournaments. Hmmmm… ? 🤔 🇬🇧🤮

Llefain
Llefain
4 months ago

Tell me you know nothing about football or these “bitter divisions” without telling me you know nothing about football or these “bitter divisions”… or humans, or history, or the “UK”, or identity, or loyalty, or… *drones on in perpetuity.

Marc
Marc
4 months ago

A little early for April 1st, but almost as laughable as the spaghetti tree

Last edited 4 months ago by Marc
Stephen Owen
Stephen Owen
4 months ago

No way

Kurt C
Kurt C
4 months ago

No thanks, not my anthem, not my flag and no way I would support. I feel the British lions is a unionist nonsense. It would further anger those not wanting creepy fascist style control rammed at them. Bad enough food is covered in a flag these days.

Quornby
Quornby
4 months ago

Oh right… Forget the centuries long resource theft. Forget the casual racism. Forget the almost daily media attacks on our heritage and the baying pack of moneygrubbers in Westminster…….rejoice you plebs you can have óne player in England’s football team…..perhaps I’m being cruel and the guy was just joking? That’s the usual lame excuse.

Last edited 4 months ago by Quornby
Erisian
Erisian
4 months ago

With every pointless Unionist gesture they advance the indi cause in Scotland and Wales and hasten the breakup of the so-called ‘Union’.
Go Times. Go Telegraph, keep at it.

Glen
Glen
4 months ago

Perhaps Matthew Syed ought to come to Cardiff tomorrow night to discuss his idea with Welsh supporters.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
4 months ago

A British Football side.?. I’ll make it short and sweet for this deluded English Tory turd. No thanks! 🤣 #CymruAmByth 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
4 months ago

What’s the point in bringing this up again now when the future for the UK is…well there isn’t a future. Besides a united football team would never bring the Union together and positions would undoubedly be filled by the English.

Robert Griffiths
Robert Griffiths
4 months ago

It would be the England team, with one or two Welsh and Scottish players, they’d play at Wembley, and sing that dirge GSTQ, so basically nothing would change for England. Meanwhile Wales & Scotland would disappear from view. My love of football would die if that ever happened. Dim diolch.

Robert Griffiths
Robert Griffiths
4 months ago

God forbid, but if football went that way, rugby would logically have to follow. So there wouldn’t be a Welsh national rugby team, and all the games would be played at Twickenham, and of course it would change the 6 nations to the 4 nations. I wonder how many rugby fans would be happy with that?

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
4 months ago

Can’t see this suggested eradication stopping at football. Rugby is next. Back to the 4 nations. Ireland, France Italy and UK. Murrayfield, Hampden Park and the Millennium stadium to be demolished and turned into homes for the rich as ‘our’ national stadiums will be at Wembley and Twickenham. Is that enough for the doubters to choose independence?

Richard
Richard
4 months ago

Well despite a Pakistan dad and a a Welsh mum he represented England 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 internationally !! Strange logic now to seek a GB 🇬🇧 ( or was that U.K. ) team at football !! .

20E592CF-E454-4ED1-AA43-F93187065296.jpeg
Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
4 months ago

This is an open goal …. for Freud. Syed’s father immigrated from Pakistan but his mother is Welsh so his subconscious desire to eliminate his maternal ancestral ties could be rich pickings for psychiatry.

Cai Wogan Jones
Cai Wogan Jones
4 months ago

An idea right up there with that of Russia and Ukraine fielding a combined football team …

Grayham Jones
4 months ago

Not in wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 The UK is finished Wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 Scotland 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 and Ireland 🇮🇪 must be independent

Grayham Jones
4 months ago

No more English Royals in wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 and no jubilee party in Wales stop being little Englanders and be proud to be welsh

Eifion
Eifion
4 months ago

Obviously just a wind up article but soccer in Wales is basically little England anyway so not sure if it would make a huge difference in that sport. Most Welsh internationals would be playing for England if they were good enough and chose Wales due to a distant relative making them qualified. The professional teams play in the English league and have very few if any Welsh players and most soccer supporters in Wales follow the top English clubs anyway. Sorry if this upsets anyone but these are the facts. This is why it always baffles me why in some… Read more »

R W
R W
4 months ago
Reply to  Eifion

A rather ignorant comment regarding Welsh teams playing in English leagues. This is nothing unusual in the world of football. There is an English team that plays in the Cymru Premier, another English team plays in the Scottish League, there are Canadian teams who play in the US Leagues, Monaco play in the French League, there are Finnish teams playing in Swedish Leagues, as well as numerous other examples from around the world. The fact you say soccer rather than football tells us all we need to know!! As for Welsh fans supporting English teams, so what!!?? There are millions… Read more »

Rob
Rob
4 months ago
Reply to  Eifion

Football does not recognise the United Kingdom as an entity. It is an English league and not a British one. If Wales went independent then the status of Cardiff, Swansea would not be affected.

Stewart morgan
Stewart morgan
4 months ago

Some really angry posters on here. What’s wrong with a. Britrish lions football team
It would be great!

Gareth
Gareth
4 months ago
Reply to  Stewart morgan

You are obviously not a football fan. When described by journalists, most football fans are termed tribal, in they way they support their chosen team, and it was only a few years ago rival fans were trying to kill each other. You think denying fans of Cymru Scotland and England a team that represents thier cultural identity is going to go down well ?

Rhys Hywel
Rhys Hywel
4 months ago

The only dangerous nationalism is English/British nationalism – the type that Boris, Gove, Rees-Mogg, Farage and friends are pushing down our throats! Cymru am Byth!

David watson
David watson
4 months ago

Just like in cricket and rugby. Nothing new here. We have the British lions which are more popular than the national teams and players are more honoured to play for. And we have the cricket team which is British isles and we the fans love it. Barmy army. In football, can you imagine indeed if giggsy and hughes had been able to play with Gascogne and shearer? Would have been winners of World Cup and make us, the fans, feel great! Guys, don’t be angry, be happy. We are lucky to be part of the U.K. we voted in wales… Read more »

R W
R W
4 months ago
Reply to  David watson

Just like Team GB winning at London 2012. Oh, wait a minute……!! 😂😂 Comments from BritNat Unionists like you are becoming increasingly desperate and ridiculous!!

Gareth
Gareth
4 months ago
Reply to  David watson

We do not have a British cricket team, we have the England and Wales team, Scotland have a team as do Ireland and they all compete internationally. Nowhere do we have a British team.

R W
R W
4 months ago

If a UK team was playing in my back garden, I’d draw the curtains!!

Rob
Rob
4 months ago

Those who compare this to the British & Irish Lions ignore 2 facts.. 1) the Lions cannot be considered a national side because it represents 2 sovereign states. The United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. 2) There are only a handful of top tier national teams in rugby and 3 of them are part of Great Britain. Should World Rugby ever force the UK to play as one they would be committing financial suicide. Football:s appeal on however is global. Try telling football fans in Catalonia, Basque country, Brittany, Quebec, Saxony etc that they have no right to field… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by Rob

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