STEVEN Naismith last night dealt a blow to the Scottish Football Association when he broke ranks and openly declared that he would like to play for Team GB’s football team at the Olympics in London next year.
Scotland and Rangers striker Naismith – who has 15 caps – has become the first home-based international to express an interest in being picked for the hybrid side at the 2012 Games, which is vehemently opposed by the SFA.
The SFA fears that any involvement with the team will jeopardise the future membership rights and identity of the home nations within Fifa. But 25-year-old Naismith has insisted Scottish players would be “crazy” not to consider making themselves available for next summer’s showpiece tournament.
Dorking-born forward Jamie Mackie, who has won four caps under Craig Levein, became the first Scotland squad member to voice support for Team GB last week, and SFA officials will be disappointed that Naismith’s opinion has further weakened their stance. A statement entitled ‘I’d Love Olympics Chance’ was coincidentally posted on Rangers’ official website within hours of the club clashing with SFA after it upheld a two-match ban imposed on Ibrox winger Sone Aluko, who had been reported by the Compliance Officer for simulation after winning a penalty against Dunfermline in his side’s 2-1 victory. Manager Ally McCoist launched a furious attack on the association’s disciplinary system, branding it as “ridiculous” and questioning the football knowledge of the three-man Judicial Panel.
McCoist’s remarks may themselves attract the attention of SFA officials, and Naismith’s interview, which featured on The Ibrox Edition on Rangers TV last night, will do little to defrost relations between the association and the club. Naismith – currently sidelined with a knee ligament injury – said: “I think the younger players in particular need to consider [playing in the Olympics] a lot more. I think we should be available for it, not so much for the political side of it, but more for the fact we can show we’ve got talent north of the Border. To play in these kind of tournaments and to be in the starting line-up for Team GB would be great and, for that reason, I would definitely make myself available.”
England Under-21 coach Stuart Pearce will take charge of the team, which will be largely made up of Under-23 players, but will also include three over-age picks. “It’s more of an event for the younger boys,” added Naismith. “It would be a massive stage for them. You’d be crazy not to consider it. Everybody has got their own views but for me personally, I’d be available.”
Mackie echoed Naismith’s sentiments last week, saying: “To be a part of it would be amazing. The way I see it is I would be representing Scotland but in the GB team.”