Times chief football writer shuts down idea of Great Britain team
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.
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.
— Henry Winter (@henrywinter) March 24, 2022
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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