Beckham's omission shows there is no room for sentiment in Team GB
Thursday, 28 June 2012
June 28 - Of all the selections and omissions of British athletes for London 2012, few are likely to be greeted with as much dismay and head-scratching as David Beckham, the country's most iconic footballer, being left out of Team GB.
Track and field and taekwondo have both had their fair share of controversy in the build-up to the Games but as arguably Britain's greatest sporting personality, Beckham's (pictured above) surprise exclusion from Stuart Pearce's squad has got tongues wagging the length and breadth of the nation.
It was widely assumed that Beckham's experience, allied with his unprecedented stature on the world stage, would bag him a spot as one of Pearce's three over-age players.
There were even rumours of Beckham, England's most capped outfield player, being personally present when Pearce's 18-man squad is officially made public early next week, an announcement that is still eagerly awaited, although now mainly to hear the coach's reasoning for why he chose to ignore Beckham's claims for inclusion.
At the age of 37, the former England captain had targeted the Olympics for one last hurrah in a distinguished career that has had as much clout off the field as on it, not least his vital ambassadorial role in helping secure the Games for London and his seemingly unflagging availability to fly the flag for his country, both literally and figuratively, wherever and whenever he was needed.
For their part, neither the British Olympic Association (BOA) nor the Football Association (FA) has officially confirmed that Ryan Giggs, Craig Bellamy and Micah Richards will be the three over-age players announced by Pearce.
"The BOA has not yet received from the FA the list of players who are being nominated for Team GB, so we cannot confirm who is, and is not, under consideration for the side," a BOA statement said.
"We are expecting the list no later than the early part of next week."
But in a statement of his own Beckham couldn't hide his disappointment and must now be wondering why he was in the 35-man short list to start with and why Pearce (pictured above) had flown out to the United States to watch him play.
"Everyone knows how much playing for my country has always meant to me, so I would have been honoured to have been part of this unique Team GB squad," Beckham said.
"Naturally I am very disappointed, but there will be no bigger supporter of the team than me.
"And like everyone, I will be hoping they can win the gold.
"As a Londoner I was really proud to have played a small part in bringing the Olympics to my home town as part of Seb's (Coe, London 2012 chairman) team and I can't wait for the Games to begin and will enjoy every moment along with the rest of Great Britain."
insidethegames has learned that Pearce made the decision to leave out Beckham partly because he was concerned about defensive options and injuries.
Richards (pictured above) was a surprise omission from England's 2012 European Championship team and Pearce, who has always said he would not pick anyone from that squad, seems to have been influenced by the unexpected availability of a player with whom he has worked well at under-21 level.
In one way such logic makes sense.
Picking Beckham may have been great from a publicity standpoint and would doubtless have sold the remaining football tickets but would he have had the legs?
Beckham may have played a significant public relations role but there is an argument to suggest that Pearce has made a brave decision on purely sporting grounds.
To win gold, Team GB will have to play six matches in two weeks, a tall order for the under-23 players let alone someone three years off 40.
Giggs may be getting on himself but at least he is still plying his trade in the cut and thrust of English football rather than across the water in a somewhat more sedate environment.
Furthermore, Pearce could only pick from 18, with fatigue, injury and energy levels key considerations.
With no golden swansong, Beckham's international career is surely now at an end.
No doubt he will still be given some kind of role during the Games after the amount of support he has put in.
The bottom line, though, seems to be that there is no room for sentiment.
June 2012: Beckham left out of London 2012 by Team GB
June 2012: Former international Gallacher hopeful four Scottish footballers will make Team GB London 2012 squad
June 2012: Bellamy to be one of Team GB's three over-age players for London 2012, he claims
May 2012: Exclusive - Hodgson's choice opens up London 2012 football road to Rio
May 2012: "No pressure" on Team GB to pick Beckham, says Coe