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Sport

Times chief football writer shuts down idea of Great Britain team

25 Mar 2022 3 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).

The chief football writer of The Times, Henry Winter, has poured scorn on those who believe a GB football team is a good idea.

Respoding to the scenes from the Cardiff City stadium as players and fans joined forces for an emotional rendition of the anthem, he wrote: “Anybody seriously suggesting a GB football team should just go and experience a Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland or England game. Or just flick the TV on now and listen to Wales players and fans singing.”

The hugely respected Winter’s comments follow a recent column by his Times sport colleague Matthew Syed who penned a controversial piece that argued a GB football team should be created to reconcile the “bitter divisions” between the different nations of the UK.

The columnist said 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 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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Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
4 months ago

Well done Henry Winter. Keep spreading the word around your office and beyond so that the preposterous idea of a GB/UK combined team is never put into print ever again.

Quornby
Quornby
4 months ago

No chance b*gger off.

Richard 1
Richard 1
4 months ago

Matthew Syed has a great future in comedy

Welsh_Siôn
Welsh_Siôn
4 months ago
Reply to  Richard 1

Only if he’s funny ha-ha. He’s failed the first test.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
4 months ago

Finally someone with common sense. A GB Team is an awful idea. It would effectively cleanse Wales of any representation akin to the British Union itself. Remember. No Welsh player if he or she wished could fly the Welsh flag or sing Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau alongside the Union Flag or anthem God Save The Queen during any tournament GB entered, be it the World Cup, Euros or Olympics in any official capacity. Note: During the 1958 World Cup in Sweden the British Foreign Office told Wales to remove the Welsh flag and replace it with the Union Flag. It… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by Y Cymro
Marc
Marc
4 months ago

It was a pretty stupid suggestion on Thursday morning and by Thursday night it was even stupider

Cymreigiwr
Cymreigiwr
4 months ago

“the only officially recognised political jurisdiction on earth that is divided by football”

The football’s perfect as is, but UK level politics are broken & dysfunctional. So the answer is obvious: we just need to separate the jurisdiction to match the football and the argument will be resolved.

Paddy
Paddy
4 months ago
Reply to  Cymreigiwr

It’s also incorrect.

China is “divided by football” – Hong Kong and Macau have their own national teams.

Bernie
Bernie
4 months ago
Reply to  Paddy

Also, the Faeroes are part of the Kingdom of Denmark yet have their own national team

Bernie
Bernie
4 months ago

What are these “bitter divisions” that Mr Syed writes about? Also, a GB team would only represent 3 of the 4 parts of the UK. He hasn’t thought this through.

Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
4 months ago
Reply to  Bernie

Many English people do not understand the difference between UK and GB because they genuinely believe they own it all.

Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
4 months ago

When Jade Jones grabbed a Ddraig Goch after winning Olympic gold she did so in defiance of the British Olympic Association which had banned all flags but the Butcher’s Apron. It is arrogant English attitudes like those which drive the UK apart far more than a wish for independence.

It has today been reported that Prince William has encouraged Caribbean nations towards being republics. He won’t encourage it for Wales or Scotland because the English still believe they own us.

Dafydd
Dafydd
4 months ago

How about an England and Jupiter Team?

too much
too much
3 months ago

stupid welsh nationalists yet again, all patting each other on the back for their silly comment on either Twitter or here but anywhere else they get booted off. You are all being played guys by the media, use your brains!

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