As we all know there's a good deal of controversy over the makeup of the football team Great Britain will enter in the 2012 Olympics in London.
As the host country, the Brits don't have to qualify for any event; they're in automatically, meaning that there will be a "Great Britain" team in the tournament.
But the "Great Britain" team will actually be the England side, since Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all have their own national teams recognized by FIFA but are not considered separate countries for Olympic purposes.
There's a good deal of pressure being applied by FIFA, in the person of Sepp Blatter and others, for the four home countries to enter a "combined" or "unified" team in the Olympics, and while it would undoubtedly be a pretty formidable contender, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are refusing to cooperate.
For them, it's an issue of maintaining their independence and avoiding the setting of a precedent.
A big part of the problem is that the four Home Associations have a unique position in world soccer. Not only are they all voting members of FIFA, and often the all-powerful executive committee as well, but they also represent one-half of the International Football Association Board or IFAB.
The IFAB, as you surely know, writes The Laws of the Game, and consists of England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and four representatives appointed by Sepp Blatter, and it takes six votes to change or add a rule.
In other words, not matter how totally in-the-bag for Sepp Blatter the FIFA appointees are, they can't alter the LOTG without at least two of the British associations going along. It serves as a check on his power and, not surprisingly, he's never been terribly thrilled about this.
Then there are people like Jack Warner, who has been complaining about this arrangement for years, partly because he's never liked the British and partly because he'd like to get one or two of his own stooges on the IFAB. He sees the whole arrangement as undemocratic, which is of course a laughable contention from a guy who routinely fixes elections and supports guys who conspire with the KKK and the Mafia.
Warner has been saying for years that Great Britain is one country, not four, and they should only be allowed one vote in FIFA.
Furthermore, both Blatter and Warner have long cherished the thought of making Great Britain unite under one Football Association and thus eliminate three of the votes that normally can't be bought come election time. Their arrogance allows them to campaign for eliminating Scotland and Wales while demanding votes for St. Kitts and the Turks & Caicos, two countries which, combined, have about as many soccer players as Boise, Idaho.
As recently as a year ago, Sepp Blatter was asked about the status of Team GB and he was remarkably blunt:
"Definitely, when London hosts the Olympics, the women's and men's team will automatically qualify to play, but they will play under the nomination of Great Britain....It doesn't matter to us if they decide to enter as one team, but then they would lose all their current privileges. There would be no Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish national teams and leagues.
Note again the last sentence: once the teams combine, not only would FIFA move to eliminate their national teams but also the national leagues. Jack Warner is licking his chops at another chance to bring the British down a couple pegs.
More recently, however, Blatter has been saying something else entirely: that of course combining the teams for just this one Olympics would have no effect on the four countrie's individual status within FIFA. He says he just wants to see "the best possible team" on the field.
Well perhaps, but the bottom line is that, frankly, the Scottish FA and the rest simply don't trust any words that come out of Sepp Blatter's mouth and are doggedly refusing to go along. Their players will sit this one out, thanks.
The latest twist came about just yesterday, when a group of mostly Labour MP's decided it was important that they weigh in on this matter, and SIGNED A LETTER ENCOURAGING THE SCOTTISH FA TO GO ALONG WITH BLATTER and join Team GB.
This of course is the ultimate violation of the Laws According to Sepp: government officials getting involved in football issues.
As an SFA "insider" put it:
....."the association was "appalled" at the developments of last week, and now feared that other countries within Fifa would start asking questions about the special status afforded to the four home associations. "This is what we feared all along. People really should be very careful with what they are doing on this issue as it could backfire on everyone."
So now FIFA is going to "investigate" the matter.
Now leaving aside the question of why it is the damn politicians decided they needed to get involved, it will be interesting to see whether the home associations can manage to hang on their their status though the 2012 Olympics.
If Sepp and his friends have anything to say about it, those associations will be history, regardless of what he's telling them now. And the politicos who believe the guy are simply fools.