We are all TeamGB…

(Warning, features strong language.)

So the sporting farce that is the British football team had its first unveiling last night, a lethargic warm down against the youth of Brazilian football. However, little attention is really falling on the 90 minutes of play, and more on the final few minutes before the kick-off, in particular the singing, or non-singing of ‘national’ anthems. Now given the controversy surrounding the formation of a British footballing team, the fears of Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish football federations that their existence might be threatened by such a creation, you would have thought those in charge of the team (that would be the English Football Association) might have had a degree more forethought than to select the English (yes, we know, it doubles as the ‘British’ anthem as well) national anthem for the team to sing. After all, there are so many musical alternatives which would not have the connotation of being the song of the English football team to choose from, yet, that is what they plumped for. What did they really expect the three Welsh internationals to do? One wonders if the lack of representation of players from Scotland was more to do with an expectation that any ‘problem’ players who might cause issues with the singing of certain anthems, would be removed from the equation – those good ol’ subservient Welsh will surely step in line though and bleat out the English anthem. But wait, they did not.

Now, we are all supposed to be in this together right? Unity, harmony, Britain together and all that which goes along with the Westminster propaganda machine that has been trying to pursued us that we do actually really like each other. Well, while twitter is far from the most reliable platform for gauging the mood of the nation, it’s about as valuable as those vox-pops which the BBC tend to rely on for their evidence based journalism, so shall we consider for a moment what the reasonable, rational, ‘all in it together to the last’ attitudes of the ‘British’ public were saying about the Welsh players and their ‘failure’ to sing the anthem? Here are a few examples (again, a warning here, some of these feature some very strong language).

‏@ManicMummyat40 Ryan Giggs should be ashamed of himself – sing the National Anthem! #englishandproud #olympics2012

@djmickbrown great to see giggs and bellamy not singing our national anthem..tossers..if they dont want to b part of it properly then please go home.

‏@richardgorman1 Giggs captain? Sing the nation anthem you welsh sheep shagging no mark

‏@ItsCareyBear Ryan giggs not singing the english national anthem #welshcunt

@BiHo1984 Shameful that Giggs and Bellamy weren’t singing the anthem before #GBRvBRA.. Definitely shouldn’t have invited these sheep-shaggers to play.

@Alanmc87 Giggs and bellamy not singing anthem..welsh bastards!!! Ah 1-0 Brazil

‏@BillyRTaylor Lol Giggs won’t sing the anthem, welsh cunt

@ricky_aj_hall Giggs and bellamy not singing the national anthem? Fucking die u horrible cunts! Neymar with the headband reminds me of a young ricky hall

@itisnate Giggs your captaining GB and you don’t sing the anthem you welsh twat and pearce you ugly twat you should of picked beckham #TeamGB

‏@StJakey Ryan Giggs you stupid Welsh cunt.. He shouldn’t Captain the Great Britain team if your not going to sing the Anthem! And you Bellamy #CUNTS

Now, we would be the first to say that this is just a snap shot. There were an equally large number of people celebrating the fact that the Welsh players were not singing the anthem, some sympathetic to the fact that as an English anthem as well, that it would be difficult for them to sing it, while a smaller proportion probably took the most sensible line, and suggested people just get over it. However, it is telling that, with such little prompting, that so much bile can be spilled forth, not just over individuals, but over the Welsh in general. We are sometimes criticised in Wales for being a little too sensitive about the slurs we receive, but the age old response would be to remove the word Welsh from the tweets above, and replace them with the words Black, Jewish, Indian, do that and several of last night’s tweeters would currently be receiving knocks on the door from the local constabulary. But it’s generally okay to say such stuff if it’s ‘just the Welsh’ isn’t it? (Though off course given the state of the British judicial system, it does appear that racial slurs in the football are perfectly acceptable, so maybe we are just out of touch.)

Anyway, back to topic, Giggs and Bellamy ‘disrespected’ the anthem by not singing it, yet there was no Welsh flag waved, no spitting on the soil as the Queen was mentioned, no turning backs and walking to a quiet corner while the teams lined up. There was no protest, this was just a few people choosing not to sing the anthem which represents their biggest sporting rivals. And yet, the hatred that burst through the thinly veiled surface of TeamGB unity is there for the world to see.

So perhaps, when the world comes to ‘London’ as the British Isles is being branded and the picture perfect image of a united kingdom of loyal love all Brits is poured onto the planet’s television screens, maybe we might refer back to nights like this. Nights where the true reflection of Britain, and it’s tolerance to it’s ‘regions’ comes pouring out. We are all TeamGB after all, so long as you don’t show that you are Northern Irish, Scottish or Welsh.

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    • Peter Brewer
    • July 21st, 2012

    Good article.

    One small point though. Northern Ireland also plays the UK state anthem before their soccer matches. And so Northern Ireland players would have been well used to singing ‘GSTQ’ had they been lining-up before the match yesterday.

    Sensibly, however, the Irish Football Association, along with the Scottish Football Association, decided to stay out of this ‘Team GB’ farce. Sadly the same can not be said of those who run the Football Association of Wales and also those who run England’s Football Association.

    • Thanks for that Peter, an oversight there on our part – amendments made.

      Agreed though, distance seems to be the safest thing to have in relation to this ‘team’. There is a very good chance that Welsh players will struggle to win over many if any of the ‘fans’ cited above, and that’s before they return to the Welsh team, where many equally irate Welsh football fans await them.

    • Mike
    • July 21st, 2012

    And for good measure both Giggs and Bellamy were booed throughout the game last night.

    • Is that so Mike? Managed about 5 minutes of the actual game so missed out on crowd reactions from the anthems on.

    • Peter Brewer
    • July 21st, 2012

    And the BBC’s commentator Jonathan Pearce (predictably) referred to ‘Team GB’ as “England” only 29 minutes into the match. I stopped watching at that point.

    • Yes, heard of that slip up from a number of people – classic BBC once more. Probably a good thing that we had switched over by then, we might have been minus one television set!

    • Naebdy
    • July 22nd, 2012

    If people wanted to be offended about anthems, they should have been more offended about them disrespecting their guests from Brazil by cutting their anthem short. Maybe jealousy that Brazil’s anthem is so much more inspiring than the Royal Dirge?

    Anyway, great result for our friends from Brazil, let’s hope Senegal, the UAE and Uruguay can dump this joke pseudo-national team out at the first hurdle.

    • A battering by the UAE (and no disrespect intended to the UAE) would hopefully be a debacle enough to put this concept to bed once and for all.

    • Rick
    • July 22nd, 2012

    Look dick heads. We English don’t have a national anthem. Look it up.
    God save the queen is the British national anthem, and if those Pc additions to the GB team don’t know that then they shouldn’t have pulled on the overly blue team GB shirts. If the Welsh don’t like the union they should leave. They will be missed as much as the Scotts.

    • Ah thank you Rick, it’s always welcome when somebody comes stomping into a blog feed acting in a way that exactly illustrates the point of the post.

      If you want to play the technicalities of anthems Rick, then nobody technically’ has a specific anthem, and yet, English teams choose to be represented by that which serves for the British anthem. It might not ‘technically’ be an English anthem, but through repeated practice and decades of association, that is what it has become. Perhaps it would not have been an issue for players from Northern Ireland, had any been selected, but it was always going to be an issue for any Welsh and Scottish players involved – it’s selection was faulty.

      However, as stressed above, all the Welsh players did is not sing along to the little tune, there was no protest. The point of the post, which seems to have completely eluded you, is on the reaction from the oh so inclusive ‘British’ (English) public to them not singing. It could have been a non-issue, but the fury of the monarchical, unionist, ‘British’ (English) footballing fraternity decided that it was worth insulting, abusing and threatening Welsh players over – all one big happy democratic family, so long as you do as your told and pretend that you are happy being represented by everything which the world associates with England.

    • Bill
    • July 25th, 2012

    Rick,

    You are probably not aware that eyeonwales does not like democracy. They will pick up on insults to Wales but will never never object to insults about England and the English. Fair and equal? Oh no!

    By the way – I am Welsh! but I don’t mind singing any of the 4 nations anthems.

    • Hi there Bill. Interesting observation, though the title of the blog, ‘EyeOnWales’ might give you a clue as to why we don’t comment on ‘insults about England and the English’. It’s akin to complaining about us not commenting on the politics of the middle east, which we freely admit, we don’t…

      Not entirely sure what democracy has to do with it either, though welcome to receive an explanation.

      Well done for being Welsh there, you might observe though Bill, were you to take the time to read the blog (from your comments it would appear that you probably don’t…or indeed the title of the blog), that those who you are presumably defending are actually insulting you. All the generic Welsh slurs picked up on twitter are attacking Welsh people, and by your definition, that would include you. If democracy means sitting back and taking foul slurs against your nation, then we can do without it, though if that is the sort of democracy you favor, then please do enjoy.

    • Al
    • July 27th, 2012

    Please be mindful that the ignorant BNP-voting thugs in “Ingerlund” football shirts who manage to post bile like that on twitter from their iphones despite the lack of an oposable thumb DO NOT represent England, nor the English. I speak as a member of the opposite end of the English demographic. I don’t really care about football, but I was excited to see Great Britain represented correctly at the olympics, rather than it being a poor reflection of a world cup with medals. Players from all the countries of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (the full name of our country) could be represented in the team, as they are in all other sports in the games. I am so disappointed in the way the various footballing assosiations have approached the formation of the team for the games, and how the media, local and national, have jumped on any hint of inter-nation rivalry to try to tear the entire effort to pieces, that I have completely lost interest in the teams progress. Frankly, the games might be best served if football was removed as an olympic sport. It’s not as if we’re short of other tournaments for the sport.

    The anthem in question is that of the UK, because the Queen is the Monarch of all the lands in the union. The flag being waved everywhere is the Union Jack. The common theme? Union. I, however, cannot stand the tawdry durge of an anthem that is GSTQ, I don’t know the words beyond the first two lines, and I can’t remember ever singing it. I would much prefer “Jerusalem” as a specifically English anthem – much more rousing. If we have to have GSTQ, lets reserve it for Team GB, or UK teams representing the union. If they want to stand in dignified silence while it blares out over the PA system, so be it. I think I would too.

    I understand the Welsh sense of pride in their identity, and pride in their sporting endeavours. The Welsh rugby team have been fine ambassadors of the best aspects of Welsh national pride for decades, and will continue to be so. Indeed, international rugby can be seen as a perfect example of how teams can fight tooth and nail for their nation while maintaining dignified respect for their rivals.

    I had hoped that the inclusive nature of Team GB would be an ultimately positive force for all the countries taking part – a chance to prove we are strong individuals within a unified team and a unified nation. The fact that people who should know better are prepared to jump on the poison posted by brainless morons as proof of the disharmony between nations (people on all sides of the argument) is, I suppose, representative of the tawdry standard of journalism we have come to expect in this day and age, and as pathetic as it is ridiculous.

    Time to pause, take a step back, and ask ourselves what we’re really trying to achieve here, and if anyone actually knows what the score was.

    • Hi Al, thank you for the detailed and well thought out reply. Generally there is a lot of what you say that we would agree with, or at least, want to agree with. This is particularly so for the point of the anthem. There are so many alternatives that would serve purpose, always enjoyed Land of Hope and Glory for instance. Since opening this thread we’ve been in touch with some ‘pro-England individual anthem’ campaigners, and we find ourselves on very similar wavelengths when it comes to the anthem question, simply there should be separate anthems to represent these very separate identities.

      What we would like to agree on is your point about those negative voices not being representative of the English/British. However, while we freely acknowledge that those voices do not represent everyone, equally your more balanced view of the issue is unrepresentative of all as well. The sad reality is, that these comments ARE reflective of an element of our society, one which may not be in the majority, but are certainly very loud and visible. The high road of course would be to overlook it and try to ignore the issue, but abuse of this nature would not be tolerated by any other group in society, and we firmly believe it is important that such instances are highlighted, so that people are aware of the sort of anger that exists just below the surface of our society towards, in this instance, the Welsh. Why indeed should such abuse be tolerated when it comes to the surface, do we send the message out that we are fine with being abused in this way? We can only hope not.

      Our argument is one which concentrates on which story is being spun, indeed it concentrates on your final question of what is trying to be achieved. The Olympics in London have been developed as a platform for unity, to show the world how well everyone in the British Isles gets along with each other. This though, is not a view that is reflective of the day to day reality of things. There is animosity, not between all, but between enough to be a real cause for concern, and it is very real. While the likes of the Daily Mail this morning came out with the super sensationalist headlines on the same subject, the likes of might we might have expected, the vitriol visible in the social media networks, specifically targeted at Welsh individuals, spilling on into general verbal attacks on the Welsh, is simply not acceptable, and is something not to be brushed under the carpet.

    • Joe
    • July 27th, 2012

    The papers will have even more of a fit after the GB vs Uruguay game at the millennium, at best some of the crowd will sing GSTQ, at worst most won’t and they’ll be a lot of booing. The Welsh players may get booed by irate fans upset at their parcipitation, and the English players may get booed just for being our rivals. It could turn out to be a huge farce…..I can just see the headlines next day calling the Welsh crowd a disgrace. Thing is the Welsh FA couldn’t stop their players taking part, they had no legal right to. The players have done it out of their own free will. I think GSTQ shouldn’t be played at the Millennium ( although it will be of course ) to save what could be a huge embarrassment.

    • We are keeping fingers crossed on it being a non-issue, the last thing we want is Wales being portrayed to the world as a place which doesn’t even welcome “it’s own team”, such as it is. While the expenditure of the Olympics has been detrimental to Wales, publicity of that nature really would be bad for the country.

    • hassan shahid
    • July 27th, 2012

    come on.. all they did was not sing the anthem. it’s not obligatory to sing it anyway and not singing it does not at all show disrespect. give it abreak now. move on…

    • Exactly Hassan, all they did was not sing an anthem, perhaps such ‘move on’ sentiments should be heard by certain national newspapers…

  1. I was just wondering … John Terry had the England captaincy taken away for an alleged affair with Vanessa Perroncel which never happened. Ryan Giggs DID have affairs with his sister-in-law AND a beauty queen (and falsely accused the latter of blackmail) and yet everyone seems completely relaxed about his captaincy of Team GB.

    Am I the only one to whom that makes no sense at all?

    • M Owen
    • July 29th, 2012

    I dont think Welsh players should be involved. Nevertheless, why should the Welsh players sing the English anthem? Why should they? Anyway, God save the queen is an awful dull anthem, Jerusalem is much better as the English anthem.

    • Mark
    • July 30th, 2012

    Do you not think there are the same proportion of people in Scotland and Wales using the term English as there are in the UK saying Welsh or Scottish C@$t? Most social groups appear to be inherently racist on some level. It’s true though that we only really do anything about certain social groups.

    I think the problem with Team GB is that it just doesn’t mean anything to any of them full stop. UK footballers in general are largely more bothered about their salaries than representing their nation. Unfortunately one of the few people for whom it would have been an honour to represent Team GB regardless of anthem wasn’t taken. I suspect David Beckham would have sung the Welsh or Scottish national anthem were the boot on the other foot..

    In athletics there doesn’t appear to be the debate on anthem. I suspect that for those athletes it’s the pinnacle of their sporting careers and it matters not one bit what anthem gets played to them. I expect they are possibly even proud to hear it when they accept a medal. I’d be interested to hear whether it ever bothered Colin Jackson. I suspect a lot of athletes don’t make the connection between the anthem and being English. Maybe they make the connection between the anthem and being British. It’d be interesting to get their perspective.

    The problem here generically appears to be footballers and people in football. For the record I think it would have said a lot more about Ryan Giggs had he sung. I expect had he done that he’d have been faced with a lot of bile from supporters in Wales.

    The issue is football, not one of English racism. The fact is you’ll here the same crap in any football stadium anywhere in the world.

    • Indeed, the attitudes on display are probably more specifically stemming from a football included audience rather than a more generically inclined ‘Olympic audience’. Indeed the use of the anthem in any other aspect of the Olympics throws the debate into a different context, as how many gold medal winning Olympians will we see singing their respective anthems? It won’t be many, that is for sure, and those that do not sing they are highly unlikely to be pulled up in front of the Daily Mail anthem tribunals board as the Welsh players have been.

      The point we were trying to illustrate was that an issue was being made out of nothing. It really does not matter who sings or not. Yet there are many watching who wanted to make an issue out of it, to find fault with the Welsh/Scottish players involved, and how this goes some way to undermine the unified concept being painted.

      Interestingly Giggs was interview yesterday/today on the issue and was quite upfront, saying that it is also the English anthem, and it would be difficult for him to sing it for that reason, while also expressing his hope that there is no booing in Cardiff. That should be the end of it, no disrespectful behavior, indeed encouraging against it. Yet the brittle facade of the United Kingdom is still just that, for a vocal minority at the very least, probably for more once the ‘in the moment’ effects of the Olympic/Jubilee period have passed.

    • Chris
    • July 31st, 2012

    I think it is far more simple, all Olympians in the British team accept the national anthem , it is traditional and if you don’t like that part of the tradition do not put yourself up to be chosen, these two desire the prestige but do not actually want to be part of the team.
    The British and Irish lions do not have an anthem for this very reason it is traditional to not have it though all supporters of the lions sing all the anthems throughout the games.
    They should give more deserving players a chance to help form a real team that plays for one another and for their supporters.
    Giggs has a strange understanding of the word sharing anyway, just ask his brother.

    • That may well be over simplifying the issue. While you contest that ‘all Olympians in the British team accept the national anthem’, how many gold medalists from the British Isles (historically, as we have none to go on for these games so far) have you seen sing the anthem? Indeed, how many gold medalists from any country from these Olympics have you seen sing the anthem? Let’s put it this way, it is not many at all, if indeed any.

      Does this then invalidate the efforts of every gold medal winning athlete at these and any other games, because they did not sing/mouth the words when their anthem was played? Do those medalists, to coin your phrase, not deserve to be gold medal winners if they do not sing their anthem?

  2. hey great job

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