By Jamie Thomas.
The Football Association of Wales is still reeling after the FA ‘played dirty’ with them over plans for Team GB at the 2016 Olympics – and they won’t give up their status as an independent football nation without a fight.
Wales and England enjoy a great sporting rivalry. It’s sometimes playful, sometimes serious – but the respective FAs have been at loggerheads since England’s recent announcement of their plans for Team GB at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
GB Olympic football teams were entered in 2012 because London was the host city, but it was meant to be a one-off. Wales, Scotland and Ireland didn’t want it to happen but at least then they were consulted.
This time, there has been no discussion on Team GB – which is believed to be a threat to their national teams and sovereignty – and the Football Association of Wales president Trefor Lloyd Hughes slammed the FA for going back on their word.
He told The Offside Rule: “I think what’s happening is that England have played dirty with the other home nations. It isn’t the first agreement they’ve reneged on recently either. I’m absolutely livid about it.”
We have a great tradition in Britain of our home nations playing independently of each other and against each other. Those are some of the greatest matches fans witness and we don’t want to resign them to history.
Rhun ap Iorwerth, a Welsh Assembly member for political party Plaid Cymru, admitted to The Offside Rule that he fears the FA’s attempts to form a Team GB football side for 2016 “threatens the independence of our FAs”.
But it’s no wonder the FA wants a piece of Welsh football – it’s booming at the moment. When Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey of Arsenal are fit and firing, Wales have two of the best players in the world in their XI; and the rest of the squad is of a very high quality now, too.
The youth set-up is also among the best in the world. England actually copied Wales’ youth development pathway last year, which is testament to the quality of management, especially when considering how the FAW’s budget pales in comparison to the FA’s.
A lot of commentators have pointed to the British and Irish Lions as an example of why Team GB could work, and while there is a comparison, there is a huge difference: respect.
You only have to look at the Lions badge to see each country is represented fairly. If the FA haven’t consulted the other home nations on putting a team forward, then why would they deliberate with them over the intricate details?
Read more from Jamie Thomas here.