Leading article: Faster, higher, stronger – and more Celtic

Click to follow
The Independent Online

And that's a fact, as football fans say when they want to brook no dissent. The words were used again yesterday by the president of the Welsh Football Association, Phil Pritchard, loudly protesting that the English FA did not speak for Wales. Unfortunately, international football authorities have decided that this is precisely what it does do – at least when it comes to selecting the home side for the football team in the 2012 Olympics. A Team GB will be chosen from the best of English, Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish players. No sooner had this been announced than ancient war-cries were issuing from Celtic throats. The non-English teams fear that, if judged a success, it might spell the end of separate home nations sides. The game's governing body, Fifa, denies this, but the Celts fear a dastardly plot by the Continentals.

They have lost the battle. Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish players can be selected – and it is up to them whether to play. It would be a pity if they refused. Olympic football is mainly for players of 23 and under, so precedents for the professional game are limited. Matches are to be played around the country, including in Glasgow and Cardiff. And it will add to the gaiety of the sport to see the likes of Gareth Bale and Danny Welbeck playing together for the first time. And that's a fact.