GLASGOW, August 28 (RIA Novosti) – Questions will be raised over Scotland’s future international sporting participation if there is a No vote, a source at FIFA, world football’s governing body, has told RIA Novosti.
For years a growing number of FIFA members have objected to the UK’s “special status” which allows the four constituent parts of the UK, (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) to compete as separate countries in international competitions, despite the UK being a single unitary political state.
“If Scotland votes No then you're going to see that debate [about the UK pitching four teams] erupt again. There is going to be real pressure to have that UK disparity finally dealt with. In the wake of a No vote many of the countries envious of the UK's special footballing status would see this as a perfect opportunity,” the FIFA source said.
Tam Ferry, who represents the Association of Tartan Army Clubs which represents Scotland supporters didn’t find the revelation surprising.
“Today's revelation that FIFA are looking at the Independent status of the four home nations is not really a revelation, but fact of everyday footballing life in this multibillion pound arena more focused on sponsors than fans,” he said.
“Threats to the footballing Independence of Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England are not a new phenomenon,” Ferry added.
He pointed to the historic reasons the UK had special privileges in international football, but as the game has grown, he said, other FIFA members had grown “jealous” of that status.
“Since 1947, when the home nations saved a bankrupt FIFA by donating the proceeds from a Great Britain Vs Rest of the World match at Hampden Park in Glasgow there have been envious eyes looking at these small islands, jealous of the power these four football associations hold,” the expert elaborated.
“Special statutes gave dispensation for the existence of these four international football teams when in fact under FIFA's own rules, they only met the criteria to play as one football team, The United Kingdom,” he stressed.
“Throughout this period, in dark smoky rooms all over the world, whenever Footballing Associations get together, the conversation has been had as to how to remove these special statutes and make these four teams play as one. In reality, it would only take a two thirds majority at any FIFA full meeting to banish our four proud footballing nations to the soccer scrapheap,” Ferry concluded.
Former Labour and SNP MP Jim Sillars told RIA Novosti questions were bound to be raised if there is a No vote in three weeks’ time, when Scotland holds a referendum on independence from the UK.
Sillars previously attracted controversy after labelling Scots, who cheered Scotland at international sporting fixtures but continued to vote for anti-Scottish independence political parties, as “90-minute patriots” – a reference to the time a football game lasts.
“The No side has gone on, and on about team GB at the Olympics, and team GB in politics,” Sillars stated.
He added that he would regret it, but “there is bound to be questions asked by other countries about the position of the four home countries if Scotland votes to remain in political team GB.”
In July English Conservative MP Laurence Robertson called for the establishment of a UK international football team following a poor performance by the England side at the World Cup finals in Brazil.
“What's the point of four teams? I don't think any other country puts more than one team out - the United States doesn't put forward fifty teams,” Roberton said.
“When England get to the group stage and we cannot get out of it, I don't think we should accept that. I think we should try and improve,” the MP added.
David Noemi, a FIFA spokesman, declined to comment or dismiss the allegations that moves to review the UK’s international footballing status would take place following a No vote.
Scots will to the polls on 18th September and will be asked one question, “Should Scotland become an independent country?”