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A team for Wales; YOUR LETTERS TO THE NATIONAL NEWSPAPER OF WALES & COMMENT DEBATE.

* SIR - Andrew R T Davies on the BBC Sunday Politics show showed how out of touch he was when he described opposition to Team GB as just petty nationalism.

There is nothing petty about preserving the right to keep our national team, there are many within Fifa who want the UK to have one team and not four like every other sovereign state.

Football, as with rugby, cricket, etc, developed in the UK with the first ever internationals being between the home nations. Then, when others started participating, these sports reached global status.

In these sports the United Kingdom has never been recognised as a single entity, until now.

Supporters of Team GB are quick to make the comparison with the British and Irish Lions in rugby union. This is no threat here for two reasons: 1) Rugby Union does not enjoy the global popularity that football does. There are only a handful of top-tier sides and three of them are within the UK. In football, on the other hand, the British teams are a small fish in a big pond.

2) The Lions represent two sovereign states, the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, and therefore cannot be classed as a national side.

Team GB in London 2012 will be the first time that the United Kingdom is recognised as a single entity in football.

Fifa's reassurances that this will not jeopardise the Welsh, Scottish, English and Northern Irish national sides will open up a new can of worms among the footballing world. Why should non-sovereign nations like Catalonia, Basque, Brittany, Quebec etc be denied the right to field national teams yet Wales and Scotland can? Why should Spain, Germany, and the rest of the world have one team but the UK can continue to have four? Imagine if Spain was allowed to have more than one team and play as Catalonia, Basque, Galicia etc yet the UK had to play as one, would we in Wales not be resentful? Wales have not been to a World Cup since 1958, therefore it is understandable why Welsh players would take the chance of playing for Team GB.

However from 2016 onwards the European championship is being expanded from 16 to 24 teams. We should see that as a realistic opportunity to qualify. Football is not really an Olympic sport and therefore is not worth the risk to our national side. ROB CARTER Cardiff
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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:May 30, 2012
Words:404
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