Introducing Team GB: A Rare, Endangered, But Ultimately Intriguing Species


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Around a fifth of the tickets that are available for the Olympic football tournament are to be removed from sale, with areas of the stadiums outside London cordoned off as the country struggles to care about its favourite sport when played under the Olympic banner.

Team GB kick it off with a match against Team Senegal at Old Trafford on the 26th of July and I personally look at the whole thing if not with excitement then at least with intrigue.

A British football team is something that has been speculated about for a long time – even if this has largely taken the form of men in pubs effectively just wishing Ryan Giggs was English – but there is very little interest in it now it's happening.

Perhaps some of this is because the team doesn't properly reflect Britain - it features five Welshmen and everyone else is English. From an English point of view, though, there are at least enough promising players to merit some interest. Daniel Sturridge and Tom Cleverley have both been in senior England squads and will almost certainly feature regularly in years to come, while Scott Sinclair has knocked on the door.

Hopefully this will set a precedent and Team GB football will become a regular part of our Olympic involvement. The other home nations have previously worried about it devaluing them on the international stage, but if Team GB now becomes a permanent thing throughout international football I'll buy a hat and eat it. It's always been a paranoid notion and this should prove that for good.

I get the general indifference towards the Games. I find it hard to get excited about throwing. I think it would be better if they kept the Olympics old school, with events like steering a four-horse chariot. We do, though, have an absurd notion here that the football is utterly meaningless, beneath us somehow, whereas in the majority of the world it's taken very seriously.

Team GB's involvement is, at least, a step in the right direction. Other teams use it as a platform for young players to gain experience. Team Argentina's gold-winning side of 2008 featured Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Angel Di Maria among other recognisable names, and Spain and Brazil are bringing strong squads here.

From a neutral point of view, the Spanish are an exciting proposition. They're addicted to winning and will be looking for yet more silverware - or goldware in this case. They've picked a strong squad featuring Iker Muniain, Cristian Tello, Ander Herrera, Javi Martinez and Euro 2012 winners Jordi Alba and Juan Mata. Of course it's pretty tough for them to pick a weak squad but all of those players are earmarked for regular future inclusion and will be determined to win.

Brazil are bringing Neymar, Thiago Silva, Pato, Ganso, Hulk and others, Uruguay have a strong team and while UAE, Gabon and Honduras might not exactly be the most exciting propositions, there's enough quality in there that this might actually be decent. It's football, after all. We bloody love football.

We actually have some historical pedigree in the Olympics, too, having won gold in 1908 and 1912. Maybe if Team GB start playing well then the interest will rise and we'll all be singing about how 100 years of hurt never stopped us dreaming. Given the standard of most of the opposition, Team GB could go far. If they do well and interest is piqued then maybe by the time the next Olympics comes around we'll actually treat it with the respect it deserves.