United Kingdom national football team

2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Sports teams

United Kingdom
Shirt badge/Association crest
Nickname Team GB
Association British Olympic Association
Head coach Not yet appointed
Captain Not yet appointed
Most caps ???
Top scorer ???
FIFA code N/A
FIFA ranking N/A
Team colours Team colours Team colours
Team colours
Team colours
Home kit
Team colours Team colours Team colours
Team colours
Team colours
Away kit
First international
United Kingdom UK 12 - 1 Sweden Sweden
(London, UK; 20 October 1908)
Largest win
United Kingdom UK 12 - 1 Sweden Sweden
(London, UK; 20 October 1908)
Worst defeat
Bulgaria Bulgaria 6 - 1 UK United Kingdom
(Melbourne, Australia; 30 November 1956)
Olympic Games
Appearances 8 (First in 1908)
Best result Gold, 1908 and 1912

The United Kingdom national football team (often known as the Great Britain and Northern Ireland national football team or the Great Britain national football team) represents the United Kingdom (UK) in football (soccer) at the Olympic Games. Separate teams for each Home Nation ( England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) compete in all other international competitions, including the World Cup and European Championships.

The United Kingdom team is currently not active, but will be reforming to compete in the Olympics in London in 2012. Previously, the UK took part in the Olympic Games (as well as playing a handful of friendly matches) from 1908 until 1972 before disbanding.


The four separate football associations of the United Kingdom and Crown Dependencies
The four separate football associations of the United Kingdom and Crown Dependencies

Football was codified in England, and there were representative international matches between England and Scotland as far back as 1872, before the sport spread to other parts of the world. The Home Nations' professional teams tended to play amongst themselves (England did not play opposition from outside the British Isles until 1908, nor did Scotland until 1929), and none of the four teams took part in a World Cup until 1950 (the Home Nations had withdrawn from FIFA over disputes regarding the payment to amateur players and did not rejoin until 1946).

England have been the only team to have any major success internationally, winning the 1966 World Cup. Scotland have never progressed beyond the group stage of any international tournament, despite competing in final tournaments of eight World Cups and two European Championships. Northern Ireland have not qualified for a finals tournament since 1986, and Wales since 1958. This is sometimes raised as an argument in favour of a single United Kingdom national team, citing the advantages of being able to call upon an extended pool of players.

Based on statistical analysis of recent matches, it has been estimated that a United Kingdom national team would have had a one-third greater chance of winning the 2006 World Cup than England did at the tournament's outset (ultimately, England lost in the quarter-finals). Opponents of the plan insist that the existing footballing identities of the fans of the Home Nations should not be sacrificed simply to stand a better chance of success.

Olympic team

Original team

Olympic medal record
Men's Football
Gold 1900 Paris Team
Gold 1908 London Team
Gold 1912 Stockholm Team

In the past, there has been a United Kingdom team in the Olympic football tournament, although, as the UK competes under the name of ' Great Britain and Northern Ireland' at the Olympics, the football team is usually known as 'Great Britain' within this context.

The United Kingdom, then competing under the name ' The United Kingdom' at the 1908 Summer Olympics, won the gold medal in the first official football tournament at the 1908 Games, beating Sweden, the Netherlands, and Denmark. These teams were predominantly made up of players from the English national amateur team, and were organised by the English Football Association with the acquiesence of the other Home Nations' FAs. The United Kingdom has not competed in the Olympic football tournament since 1972, when they were knocked out in the qualifying rounds by Bulgaria. The last occasion on which a Great Britain and Northern Ireland team reached the Olympic finals was the 1960 Games. After the Football Association scrapped the distinction between professional and amateur players in 1974, no more UK Olympic teams were entered.

2012 Olympics

Since 1972, Olympic rules have been relaxed to allow professionals to take part, but there has been no return of a UK team. However, due to London's successful bid for the 2012 Summer Olympics it has been confirmed that a UK team, controlled by the British Olympic Association, will compete at the 2012 Olymics. Furthermore, a women's team may compete as soon as the 2008 Summer Olympics.

The proposal for a UK team was supported enthusiastically by the English FA and the Irish FA (Northern Ireland's football governing body). However, the Scottish Football Association refused even to attend meetings at which the Home Nations were to discuss the possibility. At those meetings, the Football Association of Wales stressed it was strongly against the proposal, and, on December 6, 2005, it was announced that the FAW Council had voted to withdraw from negotiations.. It is not yet known if the Scottish or Welsh FAs will allow their players to be selected for the tournament or even if they are able to refuse.

Despite the opposition of two of the Home Nations' FAs, public opinion is in favour of the creation of a team for the 2012 Olympics. A recent survey of Scottish football fans claims that two-thirds would support a unified team being entered for 2012.

Position of FIFA

The position of FIFA, football's international governing body, in the debate is seen as critical. The Scottish Football Association's opposition to the plans are rooted primarily in the fear that the Home Nations would lose their special status, which is established under FIFA's constitution. FIFA President Sepp Blatter has given assurances to the Home Nations' FAs that their status would not be affected by the FAs fielding a combined team in 2012, stating:

United Kingdom national football team
We have confirmed in writing that they have to provide a Great Britain team for the 2012 Olympics, but the four British associations will not lose the rights and privileges acquired back in 1947.
United Kingdom national football team

Nonetheless, the SFA has made clear that its position has not changed, arguing that Blatter's personal opinion and permission may not matter once Blatter has left office, and that they do not wish to jeopardise Scotland's future position. The case for the UK team may be strengthened by the decision of the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball to permit a single UK volleyball team to participate at the 2012 Games.

Other Olympics

As no British team enters the UEFA Under-21 Championship, which functions as the European qualifying competition for the Olympics, it is thought that any team would be a one-off creation for the 2012 Olympics. The team would qualify as of right of being the host nation. However, the British Olympic Association has refused to rule out the possibility of entry for the 2008 Games.

Friendly results

Team colours Team colours Team colours
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Great Britain (1947)
Team colours Team colours Team colours
Team colours
Team colours
Great Britain (1955)
The kits worn in the two past matches:
• Scotland's blue in 1947.
• Northern Ireland's green in 1955.

In addition to matches at the Summer Olympics, the Home Nations have previously united to play two friendly internationals against 'Rest of Europe' representative sides. On both occasions, they included all four Home Nations: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Despite Northern Ireland's participation, both matches were played under the name of 'Great Britain'.

  • May 10, 1947; Hampden Park, Glasgow: Great Britain 6-1 Rest of Europe
  • August 13, 1955; Windsor Park, Belfast: Great Britain 1-4 Rest of Europe

1947: the Match of the Century

The 1947 game, dubbed the 'Match of the Century', was played to celebrate the return of the Home Nations to FIFA (they had left in 1920). For the match, played at Scotland's Hampden Park in front of 135,000 spectators, the Great Britain side wore a navy blue strip in honour of the host association. The gate receipts, totally £35,000, helped boost the finances of FIFA, who had been damaged by the lack of competition during World War II. On that occasion, the Great Britain team consisted of:

Frank Swift (England), George Hardwick (England), Billy Hughes (Wales), Archie Macaulay (Scotland), Jack Vernon (Northern Ireland), Ron Burgess (Wales), Stanley Matthews (England), Wilf Mannion (England), Tommy Lawton (England), Billy Steel (Scotland), Billy Liddell (Scotland).

1955: Irish FA's anniversary

The 1955 game was played to celebrate the Irish Football Association's seventy-fifth anniversary. For this reason, the match was held at Belfast's Windsor Park, and the British team took to the field wearing Northern Ireland's green strip. The Great Britain team fielded comprised:

Jack Kelsey (Wales), Peter Sillett (England), Joe McDonald (Scotland), Danny Blanchflower (Northern Ireland), John Charles (Wales), Bertie Peacock (Northern Ireland), Stanley Matthews (England), Bobby Johnstone (Scotland), Roy Bentley (England), Jimmy McIlroy (Northern Ireland), Billy Liddell (Scotland).

Other matches

Two other games were played between Wales and a team representing the rest of the United Kingdom, with players from England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. The first match, in 1955, commemorated the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Football Association of Wales. The second match, in 1969, commemorated the investiture of the Prince of Wales. In both cases, the united team played under the name of 'Rest of the United Kingdom'.

  • December 3, 1951; Ninian Park, Cardiff: Wales 3-2 Rest of the United Kingdom
  • July 21, 1969; Ninian Park, Cardiff: Wales 0-1 Rest of the United Kingdom

Future prospects

Beyond the creation of a team to take part in the Olympics, there has been support, albeit rather limited, for the creation of a permanent British national team. Although often hypothetical in nature, such a proposal has been put forward by prominent government ministers, including the former Home Secretary, Jack Straw, and the former Minister for Sport, the late Tony Banks.

Many see the chance of a permanent British national team as being remote, with over 100 years of history standing behind the separate teams of the Home Nations. As well as being opposed by the Home Nations' football associations, serious doubts linger as to whether fans of the Home Nations could be expected to put behind them the intense and often bitter rivalries, which have occasionally spilled over into hooliganism, that have long existed between them.

In addition, a unified United Kingdom team would have repercussions on the continued existence of the four Home Nations' separate football associations, their separate league and cup competitions.

Recent proposals to reinstate the British Home Championship have been accepted in principle, but rejected on the grounds of fixture congestion.. The lack of opposition to the re-introduction of the Home Internationals indicates that none of the Home Nations will be inclined to create a permanent unified national side in the near future.

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