At the heart of the debate over whether Britain will field any soccer teams at the Olympics are questions about British identity, and which of Britons’ multiple identities gets priority.
The four constituent nations of the United Kingdom compete as individual teams in soccer tournaments such as the World Cup and the European Championship. But in the Olympics, the athletes must compete under the single banner of “Team GB.”
FIFA, the world governing body of soccer, said that Britain would need to submit a bid for the Olympics with the support of all four of the national soccer associations, but Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are against the idea. They think it would damage their prospects of retaining nation status within FIFA and their ability to compete as individual nations in other international tournaments.