Lose and qualify? Why Great Britian’s road to 2024 Olympics might go through Scotland


Members of Scotland’s women’s soccer team dreaming of a place in next summer’s Olympics suddenly find themselves in an odd and unenviable situation.

The scenario is this: lose to hated rival England in December … or likely waive goodbye to any chance of participating in the Games in Paris.

The conundrum has come about due to the way that Europe’s Olympic qualifying spots are allocated, and because of how Great Britain competes as a collective unit in the Olympics, but as four separate nations in every other soccer event.

If it makes it to the Games, Team GB will be comprised of players from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. However, its qualifying place will be determined by only the results of England — the World Cup finalist and Britain’s top ranked team — during the ongoing Nations League campaign.

That’s where things get messy. England was initially the favorite to top its Nations League group and book GB’s Olympic place, but has slipped to defeats against the Netherlands and Belgium, meaning its next two fixtures take on paramount importance. Those games come against the Dutch, then the fourth member of the group — Scotland.

England can get themselves back into the mix by beating the Netherlands on Dec. 1. If that happens, that’s when the Scotland scenario becomes a true headache.

In such an instance an upset victory from the Scots would torpedo Team GB’s chances of being in Paris next summer, meaning Scotland’s players would have effectively ended their own chances of taking part.

While most of the GB Olympic squad — if it qualifies — would consist of England players, there were three Scottish members of the Tokyo Olympic squad. Several of the current team would have a chance of inclusion, especially Real Madrid’s Caroline Weir.

The issue raises further questions as to the Nations League’s viability as a qualification method. Last month on the men’s side, the Republic of Ireland’s defeat to the Netherlands in Nations League match actually improved its slim chances of reaching next year’s European Championship, due to the complicated allocation process.

Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports and the author of the FOX Sports Insider newsletter. Follow him on Twitter @MRogersFOX and subscribe to the daily newsletter.

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