The decision amounts to a major snub to Beckham and a diplomatic disaster for Pearce, whose decision came as surprise to the British Olympic Association. Beckham had been desperate to represent his country as one of three over-age players in the squad, but will now not receive the international swansong that he craved.
Pearce has instead selected Ryan Giggs, Craig Bellamy and Micah Richards as his three overage players, with the Manchester City defender the player who directly benefits from Beckham’s exclusion. Beckham was included in the 35-man long list for the Games and Pearce travelled to the US twice to watch him play, only to inform Beckham of his omission on Wednesday night.
On Wednesday the BOA, which ratifies all Olympic selections, was still to receive formal notification of the players that Pearce intends to put forward. In a transatlantic call late on Wednesday night Pearce told Beckham that he was being omitted in favour of Richards because, with Tottenham’s Kyle Walker and Chris Smalling of Manchester United ruled out by injury, he required more defensive cover.
Richards is available because he did not travel with England to Euro 2012 having refused to go on the standby list. Had he accepted he would have been in the squad. Martin Kelly took his place and following Gary Cahill’s injury travelled to Poland and Ukraine. Pearce has effectively selected an overage player in each of the three areas, Richards in defence, Giggs in midfield and Bellamy up front. Others with strong claims, including Darren Bent, have also been ignored. In a statement Beckham said:
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. 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 will have been really proud to have played a small part in bringing the Olympics to my home town as part of Seb’s team, and I can’t wait for the Games to begin and enjoy every moment along with the rest of Great Britain.
Beckham is still highly likely to have a role in the Games and London organising committee (Locog) have already approached his camp to discuss his possible involvement in the opening ceremony. Those discussions will gather pace now he is not competing but he will still require time off from LA Galaxy to play a part.
Beckham has been a consistent supporter of the London 2012 Games, acting as an ambassador first for the bid and latterly for the Games themselves.
His central role in driving public attention to the project was underlined last month when he was chosen to carry the Olympic flame on its arrival in the UK from Athens. Sebastian Coe praised Beckham’s commitment to London 2012, and said he would be offered a role in the Olympics despite his omission from the football team.
Team selections are up to the coaches and managers of each sport. David [Beckham] has been an extraordinary supporter, probably our number one supporter, of the Games from the very beginning and is keen to continue his enthusiastic support right to the end. He really gets this. He is from East London and knows how important the Games and sport are to young people. He is a great role model and we are lucky to have such an advocate. I will be talking to him about a Games time role.
Pearce is in the process of contacting all the players selected for his squad, and is scheduled to announce his full squad, with 15 players aged under-23 plus four standby names, on Monday.
The list will then be passed to the BOA, which will approve the names. As of yesterday it had not received any information from the FA.
As with every sport, player selection is the responsibility of the National Governing Body, the coaches and performance personnel,” the BOA said in a statement. With respect to men’s football, 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. We are expecting the list no later than the early part of next week.
Tottenham’s Gareth Bale is expected to be among those named, with Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsay also in contention. A bandwagon had built behind Beckham’s inclusion, with his potential appeal at the box office, where ticket sales have been particularly sluggish with 1.2m still unsold, a major appeal to Locog. Beckham is also a major client of adidas, who make the British Olympic kit. But Pearce has ignored those extraneous concerns and made a decision that will divide opinion.
The argument for a senior player to pass on experience to a young scratch side that will have minimal preparation time is strong, particularly if the player in question can pass and retain the ball, something that England have again proved this week is a challenge. In the event Pearce has chosen Giggs for that role.
Go hump a boar! Im so pissed off i better not comment anymore, because im with some nasty thoughts.