The Last Word: This political football is just about England

Arrogance wins the day as 'home nations' are steamrolled – but at least the FA will look good

It would only be right if an England football side took to the Wembley field in three years' time under the banner of "Great Britain". For it would nicely sum up the shameful myth about the 2012 Games. The Olympic bid might have been wrapped in a Union Flag and the politicians might have preached on about this "benefiting the whole of the UK" but this was always about England and only about England. They may as well appropriate the shirt because they have appropriated everything else.

In fact, it is becoming increasingly hard to understand why the other "home nations" should feel so enthused about this forthcoming Olympics. Yes, the jingoism and hoopla will doubtless make it a fortnight during which the majority from Bognor to Blaina, from Braemar to Bangor are swept along on a tide of patriotic fervour and a mighty "Rule Britannia" to that. But at what cost this short burst of feelgood? And paid for by whom and out of what?

Ask any Welsh sporting organiser (national or more importantly locally) what he or she thinks about the 2012 Olympics as their budgets are cut to the bone and the blade is traced directly right back to the heart of England. The Welsh Affairs committee "fear the country will lose around £100m in lottery money diverted to fund the event". That would be a damn sight easier to swallow if any cash happened to be heading back down the M4. But despite continued assurances from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport that it was "committed to spreading the benefits across the UK", there is barely any physical or financial evidence of that commitment.

An MPs' report at the end of last year expressed concerns about the lack of Olympic events due to be staged in Wales – ironically it will amount to a few football games – and also discovered that Welsh businesses are set to make profits so paltry from the much-vaunted Olympics supply contracts that they are hardly worth recording. It is a similar story in Scotland and Northern Ireland. So what exactly are these benefits to the "whole of the UK"?

Ah, they will tell you, GB children, wherever they are, will watch the Games on TV and be inspired enough to unshackle themselves from that PlayStation and run out into the fresh air to launch their own personal bids for gold. What a pity that when they do run out there they will discover few fields to play on, fewer facilities to play with, and even less funding to maintain their new-found interest. So what will have been the point? Well, the politicians will have looked good.

And that is essentially what this latest Olympic football saga has been about. The FA want to look good, want to be seen to be doing the right thing, and in the process have done exactly the wrong thing. The other three countries have their reasons for not wanting to risk their independence and contrary to what those wonderfully naive souls believe – those who, God bless 'em, wanted to take the word of Sepp Blatter as a guarantee – this remains a clear and present risk. The FA know this and should have respected it, but pressed on with their idea of "going it alone". "There's very little we could do to stop them," said Rob Shorthouse, a Scottish FA spokesman.

No, only humility, or perhaps an inherent sense of democracy would have stopped them. In normal circumstances if you sat around a table with the three other members who supposedly form your "union", you would be expected to bow to the common will. The FA decided, however, that here was an exceptional case and, ridiculously, will now widely be regarded as heroes for making their stand. But not everywhere. In Scotland, Wales and Ulster there will be mutterings about English arrogance and quite rightly, too.

This will not be a GB team, no matter what it says on the badge. It will be an English team and will be there essentially because of English pigheadedness in steamrolling over the wishes and needs of their fellow home nations. Too much of 2012 will be marred by that stench.

Please go to Spain soon and end this Real farce

For roughly the 730th time in the last two years, one – or probably all – of the British national newspapers yesterday had a headline speculating on Cristiano Ronaldo moving to Real Madrid. Boring? Just an incey, wincey, weeny bit...

In fact, this saga has gone way beyond boring and descended into the mire of turgid farce. Its central character, of course, is the Portuguese playmaker/play-actor who through it all has flounced around like a big Jessie, rolling his eyes on occasion, getting all het-up on other occasions, but always seeming to be devouring the attention. Much as he acts on the pitch, as it happens.

Then there is Florentino Perez, the self-celebrated inventor of Los Galacticos who, in his desire to be re-elected as Real president, apparently believes no promise to be too transparent. This man would tell his audience he has lined up a front three of Bob The Builder, Postman Pat and Fireman Sam if he sensed that the under-three vote was to be crucial.

With respect to Manchester United supporters – who understandably find this on-off transfer excruciating for entirely different reasons, as they imagine European domination without their temperamental genius – the rest of us can only pray for a swift conclusion. Obviously, that would mean Ronaldo moving to the Bernabeu, but plenty of us have come around to the opinion, "well, so be it". To us, the tedium of the tale has long outweighed the talent of the talisman and if anyone deserves each other it's plainly these two. Cristiano and Florento. A match made in that hell called footballing heaven.

News
Denny Miller in 1959 remake of Tarzan, the Ape Man
people
Arts and Entertainment
Cheryl despairs during the arena auditions
tvX Factor review: Drama as Cheryl and Simon spar over girl band

News
Piers Morgan tells Scots they might not have to suffer living on the same island as him if they vote ‘No’ to Scottish Independence
news
News
i100Exclusive interview with the British analyst who helped expose Bashar al-Assad's use of Sarin gas
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Angel Di Maria celebrates his first goal for Manchester United against QPR
Football4-0 victory is team's first win under new manager Louis van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
art
News
newsIn short, yes
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script
tv'Thomas comes right up to the abyss', says the actor
Arts and Entertainment
Calvin Harris claimed the top spot in this week's single charts
music
Sport
BoxingVideo: The incident happened in the very same ring as Tyson-Holyfield II 17 years ago
News
Groundskeeper Willie has backed Scottish independence in a new video
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor poses the question of whether we are every truly alone in 'Listen'
tvReview: Possibly Steven Moffat's most terrifying episode to date
News
i100
Life and Style
Cara Delevigne at the TopShop Unique show during London Fashion Week
fashion
News
The life-sized tribute to Amy Winehouse was designed by Scott Eaton and was erected at the Stables Market in Camden
peopleBut quite what the singer would have made of her new statue...
Sport
England's Andy Sullivan poses with his trophy and an astronaut after winning a trip to space
sport
News
peopleThe actress has agreed to host the Met Gala Ball - but not until 2015
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week
The fall of Rome? Cash-strapped Italy accused of selling its soul to the highest bidder

The fall of Rome?

Italy's fears that corporate-sponsored restoration projects will lead to the Disneyfication of its cultural heritage
Glasgow girl made good

Glasgow girl made good

Kelly Macdonald was a waitress when she made Trainspotting. Now she’s taking Manhattan
Sequins ahoy as Strictly Come Dancing takes to the floor once more

Sequins ahoy as Strictly takes to the floor once more

Judy Murray, Frankie Bridge and co paired with dance partners
Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Alexander Wang pumps it up at New York Fashion Week
The landscape of my imagination

The landscape of my imagination

Author Kate Mosse on the place that taught her to tell stories