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Why does the UK have 4 national teams?  – the post

Why does the UK have 4 national teams? – the post

British fans wave flags and cheer after Great Britain's Greg Rusedski and Tim Henman win their Euro-Africa Zone, Group A, Davis Cup second round doubles match against Luxembourg at the National Tennis Center in Esch/Zeit, Luxembourg, Saturday, April 10. 2004. Great Britain won the match 6-4, 7-6, 6-3. (AP Photo/Virginia May)

Tonight, in the European Football Championship, Italy will play against England and not against Great Britain, as happens in many other sports

Tonight, Italy will face England in the quarter-finals of the 2012 European Championship, which is being held in Poland and Ukraine. But why England and not the UK? This is an old question dating back nearly two centuries, when the various national teams of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (also called… Major nations) which subsequently meant that other aspiring national teams, such as Catalonia, requested the same status (which was now much more difficult to obtain). Among other things, the national team of the United Kingdom, if it united the best footballers from the four countries, would almost certainly be one of the strongest teams in the world (According to one study, will have about a third more chance of winning tournaments than single picks). But this does not particularly convince the smaller countries – Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – which are very interested in self-government.

Because there are 4 national football teams in the UK
It all started in 1863, when the first football association in history and in the world, the English Football Association, was founded. But at the time, its definition was unclear, as it did not specify whether it also included football played in Scotland or Wales, for example. Thus, after ten years of uncertainty, the Scots decided to form their own union, and a few years later, the Welsh (in 1876) and the Irish (in 1880, whose union had been divided in 1921 between Ireland and Northern Ireland). To date, there is no single football association for the United Kingdom.

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In all of this, world football's highest body, FIFA (The International Federation of Football(This game was only born in 1904, when the United Kingdom, at football level, was already divided into four associations and therefore into four independent national teams. A year before the founding of the Scottish Association, in 1872, Scotland and England played a match in Glasgow which Today it is considered the first international match in the history of football.Since then, these national teams have always played alone, with very rare exceptions.

How are players selected?
There are some problems here, because obviously all British citizens have British passports and not English, Scottish, etc. Therefore, it is not possible to choose on the basis of this parameter, as happens in other countries. The rule states that a footballer with a British passport can independently choose which national team he wants to play for from among the countries in which he, his parents and grandparents were born (obviously if all family members were born in Wales, for example, the choice unavailable). Under this rule, Jack Collison, a promising young British footballer, chose to play for Wales, for example, despite being born in Watford, England.

Examples of this include those born in the British Crown Dependencies, i.e. the independent departments of the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. In this case, players can choose any national football team from the United Kingdom as they wish. For example, Graham Le Saux, 43, was born in the Channel Islands but soon chose to play for England. The most unusual case is that of citizens holding dual British and Irish passports, which is common in Northern Ireland, where a footballer can choose his national team almost independently.

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Hymns
Obviously, the England national team has its own national anthem May God protect the queenWhich is played before the start of football matches.

In other countries, from this point of view, things are more confusing.

– Wales has The old country of my fathersliterally “land of our fathers” in the Welsh language, has emerged in recent years It sparked controversy Because many players do not know it and therefore do not sing it.

-Northern Ireland also uses it for most of its national team's official occasions and football matches May God protect the queenBut some politicians and part of civil society have long called for an alternative.

Scotland, in contrast, does not have an official anthem, not even for football matches, but the song has been in use for many years Flower of Scotland.

British national football team
The situation of the four UK national teams is therefore peculiar in football and in a few other sports such as rugby, because in the vast majority, such as the Olympic Games, for example, athletes from Nations of the homeland They all compete in the team called 'Great Britain and Northern Ireland', hence the United Kingdom, but by convention they are called 'Great Britain'. Therefore, a contradiction arises every time in the Olympic Games, in which the British football team participated only 8 times for various reasons, the first of which is the lack of agreement between the different federations.

This year, 52 years after their last participation in the Rome Olympics in 1960, the British national team, led by Stuart Pearce, will return to play together in a great occasion, the London Olympics. But this decision was preceded by a lot of controversy in the United Kingdom, especially from the smaller countries, namely Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which feared for their autonomy, including in football. After many arguments and arguments, in the end it was the three smallest countries in the world Nations of the homeland They capitulated: they would not be involved in the management of a single national team (which would therefore be solely the responsibility of the English) but they would not oppose any call-up to the British national team of Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish players. .

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Photo: AP Photo/Virginia Mayo

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