Team UK.

Ranger’s player Steven Naismith has this week scratched an itch in Scotland about the possibility of Scottish players turning out for “Team GB” in the Olympics next summer.

A spokesman for the fabled “Tartan Army” was also exercised by the young Rangers player and his stated wish to play in the Olympics for “team GB.”

The SFA are not too keen on Scottish participation in a British team at the Olympics.

They fear that FIFA will move on this British team to say that the “home nations” should field a unified team in the world cup.

This fear has been echoed by Sir Alex Ferguson the manager of Manchester united.

Soccer is a simple game that is part of its appeal both in terms of participation and spectating.

So here’s a simple rule for a simple game:

If you have a team in the FIFA world cup then you should also have a seat at the United Nations.

The players that take to the field in FIFA competitions should also have passports in the name of that country and not some regional component of a larger state.

The Scots are undoubtedly proud of their country. However they do not, at present, have a placemat at the table of nations with “Scotland” written on it.

In terms of being a coherent cultural entity Catalonia has a far stronger claim to nationhood and would have a significantly better team! It is no less of a denial of ethnicity for a Catalan to turn out for Spain than a Scotsman to play for a United Kingdom team yet it happens.

Regarding the fact that Scotland now has a measure of devolved local authority then it is not nearly as autonomous as, say, Bavaria.

The manager of the British Olympics team Stuart Pearce is certainly keen to include players from Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

The ex-Scotland boss Craig Brown in an audio clip here states that he fears that FIFA, with 208 competing countries, wants to reduce the UK’s four votes to just one.

Of course, if the Scots want to retain their own soccer team then they should pull up a seat at the UN and issue their own passports.

The same is true for the Welsh.

Cymru am byth!

In the meantime while they are within the United Kingdom and that should be name of their international soccer team.

Even the term “Team GB” is rather insulting to those people in Northern Ireland who cherish their connection to Britain.

The state to which they are part and wish to remain is the “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.”

Perhaps one way around the Team UK issues would be not to pick the players on the basis of ability, but to have sort of a quota system from the four component parts of the UK based on population.

If players were picked on a pro-rata basis then Northern Ireland  with 1.759 million out of a UK population of 58.79 million  would qualify to be 2.9% of the Squad  (AKA Kyle Lafferty).

Some might argue that he shouldn’t be in the same squad as Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard.

I would point out that there is, of course, a long tradition within Northern Ireland of people being selected for positions for reasons other than their ability to do the job.

Similarly players born in the Six Counties can, if they wish, declare for the Republic of Ireland.

I understand the chagrin of the Northern Ireland soccer authorities, but that one is put to bed.

When “Team UK” it takes the field of play will look very much like England with a few attachments.

There fore it will be an accurate representation of the demographic and political reality of the UK state. It is the expression of the predatory expansionism on England in centuries past.

With Tam Dalyell’s “West Lothian Question” unanswered (for it is unanswerable) the English are now the biggest stateless nation in Europe.

They don’t want to lose their international team either, but they are skewered on this Britishness thing.

It has served the London polity rather well since the 17th century.

On a recent train journey from London to Glasgow I thought of the political journey the island of Britain has embarked upon.

I don’t know if the UK is finished as a polity, but it certainly changing.

It matters to me as a citizen of the Republic of Ireland.

We share a land border with the UK polity and, of course, a difficult history.

These are conjoined islands.

We have a deep shared history some of it is good and some of it is terrible.

This year the British monarch said at a state banquet in Dublin Castle (a property her family once owned) that in the centuries of conflict between Britain and Ireland that “many things should have been done differently or not at all.” Indeed.

Simon Jenkins in this intelligent piece in the Guardian deals with the central reality of the political history of these islands over a millennium; that of English power and dominance over the other people of this archipelago.

This Guardian podcast on the same subject of the “Disunited Kingdom” deals with the subject very well.

“Devo Max” may well be part of a disaggregating polity with Scotland in the lead, but it isn’t independence.

Wherever the Scottish people end up in terms of their governance is a matter for them and them alone.

However, if Scotland ends up somewhere between Catalonia and Bavaria then it will still be British and part of the UK state.

The utterly unfair anomaly of the four FIFA teams from the UK should be dealt with once and for all.

Hopefully Team GB is the start of that process.

Once a UK team was in the world cup then UEFA would, surely, have no problems with a UK FA and a UK league.

This would spell the end for organisations like the SFA.

Ah well…

A UK league would afinally solve the myriad of problems for my club Celtic operating for all its existence in a hostile environment in Scotland.

Can anyone imagine a UKFA back in the 1950s telling Celtic to take down the Irish tricolour from Celtic Park?

Would there have been, on the day of the Papal visit to Britain in 2011, a “Dallas email” knocking around in the UKFA server?

I somehow doubt it.

English born players who have declared for the Republic of Ireland have not been subject of racial harassment as has been the case in Scotland.

There is no English equivalent of Aiden McGeady

Like the team itself the UKFA would be dominated by English people and their basic decency and tolerance would define the organisational zeitgeist of the new body.

Of course “Team UK” would allow people in Scotland to more fully celebrate their Britishness at a time when young people in Scotland are increasingly rejecting the “B” word.

If the UK team was picked on footballing ability then it would probably be the England team in a different shirt.

If Scots like Steven Naismith take part in a British team at the Olympics next year then the only thing stopping a UK team is a promise from Sepp Blatter.

Why should the Catalans not be given the opportunity to state their nationhood at the FIFA world cup?

They have a culture and history and a measure of self-government that make them far more distinct from the people of Castile La Mancha than the Scots are from the English.

The Catalans can play in the World Cup when they have a seat at the UN?

Why should England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have this special treatment?

It is indefensible and contrary to the concept of fair play.

One could even say that it is simply not British.

Given the miracle of Tallinn my son and I hope to on a road trip to Poland next summer.

Our passports will the same as the team we are following.

The RoI is increasingly an all island team rather like the rugby union side.

The players in the Irish soccer have Irish passports as per FIFA regulations.

In my opinion only states with a seat at the UN should have a FIFA recognised soccer team.

Of course I will always wish the best for Team UK when it finally takes to the field in the FIFA world cup just as I will welcome the team of a truly independent Scotland on the world stage.

Either works for me, but as Mo Mowlam was fond of saying during the Good Friday Agreement talks, “the status quo is not an option.”

I wish Steven Naismith well in a United Kingdom shirt next summer.

This young man could, in time, become as significant to Planet Soccer as Jean-Marc Bosman.

The very best of British to him.

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