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European Football Championship 2024: Why are England, Scotland and Wales competing separately?

European Football Championship 2024: Why are England, Scotland and Wales competing separately?

There is an endless debate among football fans about which is the best football country. The shortlist for this “title” is Great Britain as the home of the sport. But why is the country not sending a joint national team to the 2024 European Football Championship in Germany?

Why do England and Scotland have their own national teams?

Its role as the birthplace of football is the origin of many of Great Britain's national teams. Before there were any official rules for the game, the first clubs already existed in Scotland and England. The first international match in football history was played between England and Scotland in 1872.

As independent football associations had already formed in various parts of Great Britain at this early stage, there were no nationwide structures like the German DFB. This meant that associations were often prevented from participating in the European Championship by their own compatriots. For example, in 2000, Scotland were denied participation in the European Championships in the Netherlands and Belgium after losing a match against England.

There are four teams in total in Great Britain

Scotland and England are the two teams that continue to compete in major tournaments, while the United Kingdom has the other two teams. Wales and the smaller country of Northern Ireland each have their own football associations and therefore their own national team.

However, neither was successful. They appear on the big football stage only occasionally, usually quite unexpectedly. This is how Wales entered the last World Cup in Qatar. Sure, the team lost in the preliminary round, but at least they made it to the German national team. Northern Ireland have also recently appeared on the international football map, reaching the round of 16 of the European Championship in 2016. However, both teams failed to qualify for the European Championship this time in Germany.

A joint team at the Olympics

Although the various football associations in the United Kingdom do not always agree, they have repeatedly made an exception and joined the Olympics. Individual teams are not allowed in the Olympic Games and there are no special regulations for the island state. This “British football selection” last participated in the 2012 Olympics in London and lost on penalties in the quarter-finals. This time, no British football associations are participating in the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.