David Beckham will not have his Olympic swan song. The L.A. Galaxy midfielder has been left off the ad hoc Great Britain soccer team competing at the 2012 London Olympics. He had been expected to fill one of the three overage player spots.
Does coach Stuart Pearce have no soul? No sense of romance? Perhaps, but the true issue here was roster selection. The Olympic squad size is 18, not the normal 23 for FIFA international tournaments. Teams may only select three players over the age of 23. Pearce had an additional constraint, an agreement not to select players who competed at Euro 2012.
Great Britain had a rash of injuries among the eligible plyaers, with four presumptive defenders having to bow out of the tournament. They were also thin up front. This forced Pearce to use one veteran slot for a defender, Micah Richards, and one for an attacker, Craig Bellamy. This left one place for a midfielder. The choice was not to pair Ryan Giggs and David Beckham. The choice was between them, and Pearce made the correct choice.
Ryan Giggs is a better player than David Beckham. He was better when they were teammates. He is better now. He is also a better sentimental choice. Born in Cardiff to Welsh parents, Giggs was fated to play for Wales instead of England. He is perhaps the greatest player still active to never appear in the finals at an international tournament. He has played 21 years at Old Trafford. There is no better choice to throw on the arm band and lead a Great Britain team onto that field.
This is a competition. Stuart Pearce chose the best and most flexible squad with limited space. He chose a better player who has never had such an opportunity, over a weaker one who has had many. It sucks, considering the amount of promotion Beckham did for the event, but it was the right decision.
[Photo via Getty]
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