Team GB Olympics

Next summer will see the 2024 Paris Summer Olympic Games take place across France. Part of the list of tournaments comprising the Olympics next summer will be its Olympic Football Tournament.

Several major countries including France, Spain, Ukraine, Morocco, Egypt and the United States have already qualified for the men’s tournament with further Asian and South American countries to be decided in tournaments early in 2024.

The women’s competition looks even stronger with France, the United States, Brazil, Colombia and Canada already confirmed and a host more from Europa, Asia, Oceania and Africa to be decided between February and April next year.

Certainly, betting on the Olympic Football Tournament can be exciting, which is why bet365 Sport carries many different bets on these games when the tournament is in progress.

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But there is one force in world football that won’t be available to bet on for either the men’s and women’s event. A team that won the gold in the first two times it was officially competed for in 1908 and 1912.

I refer to a Great Britain Olympic Football team, who last competed in this tournament, only by special dispensation from FIFA, at the London 2012 games.

In this article, we’ll look at why Team GB doesn’t tend to enter the Olympic Football tournaments, the pros and cons of competing and we’ll look at some of the players for both the men’s and women’s teams,  who could have featured if Team GB was playing in the Olympic Football tournament next summer.

But let’s first begin with a look at how the tournaments are organised.

What Is The Olympic Football Tournament?

The Olympic Football tournament operates under similar rules for both the male and female events, but with a couple of key differences.

  • Tournament Organisation

Both tournaments are comprised of 16 qualifying teams. The teams are seeded and then drawn into four groups.

Each team plays the other team in its group once, with the top two teams in each group moving through to the quarter finals.

From the quarterfinals, it is a straight knockout competition with penalties used to decide the winner until the final is contested.

The Final will see the winners awarded a gold medal, the losers a silver and earlier in the day a bronze medal match is played between the two losing semi-finalists to determine who wins the bronze medal.

  • Squad Composition

This is where the main difference between the male and female competition comes into play.

For the women’s teams, there are no age restrictions on which players can be selected for their squad. As such, the women’s squads tend to be the same as those that represent their country in FIFA tournaments and such like.

The men’s tournament does have an age criteria where players must be under the age of 23 on a certain date, in order to be eligible. However, each team can pick up to three overage players to bolster their squad.

Each squad is comprised of 23 players, of which three must be goalkeepers.

Previous Winners

  • Hungary (1952, 1964, 1968)
  • Great Britain (1900, 1908, 1912)
  • Uruguay (1924, 1928)
  • Soviet Union (1956, 1988)
  • Argentina (2004, 2008)
  • Brazil (2016, 2020)
  • Denmark (1896)
  • Canada (1904)
  • Belgium (1920)
  • Italy (1936)
  • Sweden (1948)
  • Yugoslavia (1960)
  • Poland (1972)
  • East Germany (1976)
  • Czechoslovakia (1980)
  • France (1984)
  • Spain (1992)
  • Nigeria (1996)
  • Cameroon (2000)
  • Mexico (2012)

There was no Olympic Football in 1916, 1940 and 1944 due to the World Wars.

The only time Football was not part of the Olympics when the tournament was held was in Los Angeles in 1932.

Great Britain and Hungary share the most victories with three wins apiece. Hungary also have a silver and bronze medal in 1972 and 1960.

When Has A Male or Female GB Football Team Competed In The Olympics?

A Male GB Football Team competed in 1900, 1908, 1912 (winning all 3 tournaments) but has never won since. The team competed in 1920, 1936, 1948, 1952, 1956 and 1960.

However, since then, a male Team GB has only competed once at the Olympics in 2012, where they finished fifth.

Why Is It Problematic To Put Forward a Men’s and Women’s GB Football Team For The Olympics?

There are a number of factors that have been the issue when trying to get a team sorted to represent Great Britain and Northern Ireland at the Olympics and many of these issues still exist to this day.

Let’s begin with the women’s team, where a compromise has been agreed to allow a Team GB team to enter in one form or another.

  • Women’s Team Qualification

The women’s team only entered in 2012 for the first time but after objections from the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland FAs, a GB. Team for the 2016 Olympics could not be agreed.

By 2020 in Tokyo, the four FAs had agreed that the highest ranked of the four home nations would be allowed to compete for an Olympic place and by reaching the Semi Finals of the World Cup in 2019, England had earned a direct qualifying spot.

The Team GB Squad would be comprised of players mainly from England, but with representatives from. the other home nations also selected.

As with the 2012 tournament, the Great Britain ladies team went out of the tournament at the quarterfinal stage.

For 2024, the Nations League will serve as the qualifier for the Olympic Tournament in 2024 and once again the highest ranked Home Nations team will represent Great Britain. If Great Britain qualify, and that is somewhat in doubt at the moment, Sarina Wiegman would be the manager.

  • Men’s Team Qualification

It is far more problematic to get the four FA’s that make up the countries of Great Britain to agree on a way forward for a Team GB Male football representative team. There are a host of reasons for this:

  • All four nations hold a seat in the main FIFA Committee. Britain is unique in that while one country under the Great Britain umbrella, it essentially holds four votes. FIFA members have felt this gives Great Britain too much power at the negotiating table and their argument is that if Team GB enters teams for Olympics under that single entity, they should do so for the World Cup, European Championship, Nations League etc.
  • The four FA’s cannot usually agree of how the composition of a GB Team would look, or who would run the team.
  • Many players would be forced to miss the end of their pre-season training and start of the football season in the UK due to when the Olympic Football tournament usually takes place.
  • Clubs do not want to lose key players for a tournament that they view as unnecessary in an already hectic football calendar.

Until such reasons as these can be resolved, it seems unlikely there will be any male Team GB teams competing in the Olympics for the foreseeable future.

And that is a shame as there are a number of benefits this could afford GB players.

What Would Be The Benefits Team GB Participating in the Olympic Football Tournament?

Despite the negatives outlined above, there would be three huge benefits to fielding a mens Olympic Football team for Team GB.

  • Top stars under the age of 23 would get a chance to play in a major tournament against other quality teams.
  • Older stars who have not yet featured in a major finals tournament could be one or more of the overage selections for the team, as Ryan Giggs and Craig Bellamy were for the 2012 Great Britain Olympic Team.
  • A chance to claim another medal for Team GB in the Olympics.

The question here is do the benefits outweigh the negative issues outlined above and unfortunately for the time being at least, they do not seem to. At least in the eyes in those who govern the game globally and in the UK.

Hypothetically, which players could be selected if Team GB had a male team for the 2024 Olympics in Paris?

Just for a flight of fancy, let’s assume that I’ve been appointed as manager of a new Team GB Football team expressly to play in the France 2024 finals. Furthermore, I have been given carte-blanche by all four FA’s and the clubs in the professional game to pick any eligible players I like for the team.

I am going to say that I will only pick a maximum of one over age player and one under 23 player from a single team and for most, I will just be picking an Under 23 player.

Here’s what my 23-man squad would look like for Team GB at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Team GB Olympic Squad 2024

OA indicates one of the 3 overage players permitted in the squad.

  1. GK – James Trafford (Burnley & England)
  2. DR – Tino Livramento (Newcastle & England)
  3. DL – Andy Robertson (Liverpool & Scotland) OA
  4. DC – Jarod Branthwaite (Everton & England)
  5. DC – Max Kilman (Wolves & England) OA
  6. MC – Conor Gallagher (Chelsea & England)
  7. AMR – Bukayo Saka (Arsenal & England)
  8. MC – Jude Bellingham (Real Madrid & England)
  9. AC – Ivan Toney (Brentford & England) OA
  10. MC – Harvey Elliott (Liverpool & England)
  11. AML – Cole Palmer (Chelsea & England)
  12. Def 5 – Neco Williams (Nottingham Forest & Wales)
  13. GK 2 – James Beadle (Oxford Utd & England)
  14. Def 6 – Charlie Cresswell (Leeds Utd & England)
  15. Def 7 – Taylor Harwood-Bellis (Southampton & England)
  16. Def 8 – Aaron Hickey (Brentford & Scotland)
  17. Mid 4 – Jacob Ramsey (Aston Villa & England)
  18. Mid 5 – Phil Foden (Man City & England)
  19. Mid 6 – Billy Gilmour (Brighton & Scotland)
  20. Att 4 – Cameron Archer (Sheff Utd & England)
  21. Att 5 – Brennan Johnson (Tottenham & Wales)
  22. Att 6 – Ewan Ferguson (Brighton & Northern Ireland)
  23. GK 3 – Cieran Slicker (Manchester City & Scotland)

How do you think this Team GB squad would fare in the 2024 Olympics? Would they strike gold, bring home a silver or bronze, or fail to earn a place on the podium?

It will be interesting moving forward to see if there is any enthusiasm to bring back a male Team GB team to represent the nations at the Olympics in future. At present, any such agreement looks a long way off.