May 19, 2024

Why do England, Scotland and Wales compete separately in the European Championships?

Great Britain in the European Championships

This is why England and Scotland have their own national teams

Today 26 April 2024 | 16:09

There is an endless debate among football fans about which country is the greatest in football. The shortlist for this 'title' is Great Britain as the home of the sport. But why doesn't this country send a combined national team to the 2024 European Football Championships in Germany?

This is why England and Scotland have their own national teams

Its role as the birthplace of football is also the origin of many of Great Britain's national teams. Even before there were any official rules for the sport, the first clubs already existed in Scotland and England. The first international match in the history of football between English and Scottish players was held in 1872.

Since independent football associations had already been formed in various parts of Great Britain at this early stage, there were no national structures such as the German Football Association. This meant that federations' participation in the European Championship was often prevented by their own nationals. For example, in 2000, when Scotland was denied participation in the European Championships in Holland and Belgium due to failure in the match against England.

Great Britain has four teams in total

In addition to the Scotland and England teams that regularly appear in major tournaments, the United Kingdom also has two other teams. Both Wales and the small nation of Northern Ireland have their own football associations and therefore their own national team.

However, the two are not very successful. They only appear on football's big stage every now and then, and usually completely unexpectedly. This is how Wales managed to qualify for the recent World Cup finals in Qatar. Naturally, the team there failed in the preliminary round, but at least it reached what the German team reached. Northern Ireland has also recently emerged on the international football map and qualified for the round of 16 of the European Championship in 2016. However, neither team was able to qualify for the European Championship in Germany this time.

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Joint team in the Olympics

Even if the UK's various football associations have not always agreed, they have repeatedly made exceptions and joined forces for the Olympic Games. Individual teams are not allowed to attend the Olympic Games and there are no special regulations for the island nation. The British Football Group last participated in the 2012 Olympics in London and lost on penalties in the quarter-finals. This time, none of the British Football Associations will participate in the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.

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