Select Committee on Scottish Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 180-199)


22 NOVEMBER 2005

  Q180  Mr Davidson: I very much understand that point, but the point I am pursuing is slightly different—

  Ms Bracewell: Should I concentrate on just doing a Scottish basketball team?

  Q181  Mr Davidson: That is right, and you seem to be saying to me that a Scottish basketball team would not qualify. What I am interested in is because this issue has been raised quite seriously with us, about having a separate Scottish team in everything, I am just trying to establish the extent to which Scots would then not be represented at all if the team were separate. Can you give us a list as it were?

  Ms Bracewell: I cannot give you a list off the top of my head but I am sure I could give you a list later.

  Q182  Chairman: Can you pass this information to us after?

  Ms Bracewell: Absolutely.[2]

  Q183 Mr Walker: How many teams play in the football tournament? Is it 20? It is through qualification, is it not?

  Ms Bracewell: It is through qualification, yes.

  Q184  Mr Walker: I wonder if Scotland would qualify for the football. Hockey—we always qualify for the hockey.

  Ms Bracewell: British hockey we qualify at.

  Q185  Mr Walker: But I doubt Scotland on its own would qualify for hockey.

  Ms Bracewell: They are now ranked ninth or eleventh in Europe so, no, they would not qualify through their own team.

  Q186  Mr McGovern: It cannot possibly be an exact science, there must be a bit of the hypothetical or subjective.

  Ms Bracewell: Yes.

  Q187  Mr Davidson: Because a team might out-perform during the qualification period so to speak.

  Ms Bracewell: Yes. I suppose it is always open to us, if we want to, to spend huge amounts of money to try and turn this around, but that is not something that Scotland could do.

  Q188  Mr Walker: So young Scottish talent could be denied a chance to win an Olympic medal at football because the SFA is not taking part.

  Ms Bracewell: Yes.

  Q189  Mr MacDougall: I am going to make the point that the question is getting a bit beyond that, but you were talking about what motivates you better is the British team rather than the Scottish team. You are a former athlete, you would know this.

  Ms Bracewell: Yes.

  Q190  Mr MacDougall: What I was going to say to you was, is it not a question that if you want to pass the first test to get into the British team you have to be a superior athlete, and if you think about the fact that if you are competing in the British team you are competing against far more and many athletes who are of greater capability, and you have to raise your standard immediately.

  Ms Bracewell: Yes.

  Q191  Mr MacDougall: Where as maybe in the Commonwealth Games you want the same passion to win, but—is that not the case?

  Ms Bracewell: Yes, there are some sports like curling where, if you make the Scottish team, you are the best in the world, but there are an awful lot of sports where you make the Scottish team and you are not quite good enough still for the British team. One of the jobs that we have got is to raise the Scottish expectations, it is not just enough to wear a Scottish tracksuit, you want to wear a Scottish tracksuit, be the best in the world and go onto the Olympics. I think the motivation for an athlete is that you want to get to the Olympic Games because it is just the biggest stage and it is just an amazing event. We all want to get there, we love doing all our Scottish bit for the Commonwealth and that is a huge goal in itself, but there is also something very special about going to the Olympic Games.

  Q192  Gordon Banks: Just a very quick point on this issue, would it not be fair to assume that the UK training, sports managers, sport selling, sport psychology is bound to be better than anything that any one of the home countries could offer on its own, so therefore that is to lead to better performance from the athletes.

  Ms Bracewell: This is really interesting because actually we have got a Scottish Institute of Sport which is perceived to be much better than what is on offer in England, and that is where we do our sports science, our sports medicine, lifestyle for sport and all kinds of other stuff. That gives all kinds of strength and conditioning and other services to some of the athletes in the British Olympic squads, so top Scottish athletes can tap into our institute. I actually think that that we are pretty good at elite sport, but it is a case of would we be able to get the numbers of athletes coming through in Scotland to actually get the teams to then benefit and qualify.

  Q193  Gordon Banks: And allow us to keep that expertise up.

  Ms Bracewell: Yes.

  Q194  Mr Davidson: Can I ask you whether or not the same rules apply to the special Olympics in terms of automatic access and so on, and if we had a separate Scottish team for the Olympics would that then oblige us to have a separate Scottish team for the special Olympics, and what would that mean in terms of automatic access.

  Ms Bracewell: The Paralympic Games are run by the International Paralympic Commission and I honestly do not know enough about the links between the IPC and the IOC to know how that would work, but I would imagine that it would be a very similar issue. Certainly, when it comes to that, from a British point of view UK Sport funds both the Olympic programme and the Paralympic programme, and when we send our teams, apart from the logo changing on the tracksuit everything is the same, but at an international level I suspect then we would have to petition the IPC to see if we could go as Scotland and then again another issue around this is that it is not just the IOC and the IPC that have to recognise Scotland, it is each of the international governing bodies of sport who take part in the Games. FIFA already recognises Scotland, but you would have to go round each of the sports like swimming, fencing and you would have to get the international bodies of all of those to recognise the Scottish swimming team, for example. I imagine that would be the same at the Paralympics.

  Q195  Mr Davidson: The other element of this approach was that it was suggested that if we could not really go as Scotland we might want to consider going as Europe. That is not my suggestion, but it was made by somebody who is not here and I think it is, however, worth clarifying what your reaction is to the idea that there would not be a British team, and if we could not get a Scottish team we would participate in a European team. What is your response to that crackpot idea? I do not want to put words in your mouth.

  Ms Bracewell: I think that would be the hardest team in the world to qualify for, point one. If you take the best of Europe, of the top 10 nations in the Olympic Games five of them are European so you are making life pretty difficult. I am sure there would be a number of athletes who, if it was the only way to get to the Olympic Games, would try to get there, but it is so hard I do think it is a non-starter. We would all rather walk in there with a British tracksuit rather than struggle to qualify for a European team.

  Q196  Mr McGovern: Is it your understanding that, just as the legally binding agreement between the IOC, the BOA and LOCOG means that no more venues could be located in Scotland, would the same agreement mean that despite media speculation to the contrary, you would not be allowed to take any events away from Hampden Park without IOC approval?

  Ms Bracewell: If it genuinely is a legally binding contract then they cannot take it away from Hampden without IOC approval, and I think it would be very unwise for LOCOG to do that because it is not just us that would be jumping up and down. Once you take one event out and there are other parts of Britain that want to benefit from the Games, how many other events then come up for grabs? It is either a legally binding agreement where Hampden is definitely in, or there is a much bigger problem for LOCOG. Certainly all the noises that I have heard from LOCOG are that Hampden is in there, we know what the dates are, we have those opening matches and we have got the quarter-finals match. We just have to be alive to that one.

  Q197  Gordon Banks: Do you think the SFA's decision not to take part in a GB team will have a spin-off effect that is detrimental to attracting footballing nations or other sports?

  Ms Bracewell: I think the question of a British football team is really a question for the SFA, but I think that wherever we come out here we have to make sure that Scotland's independence is absolutely maintained in the World Cup. If the SFA are not sure of that, you ask the question whether or not any British team should be entered. What would be a difficult situation, if history were to judge us later, is if a British team consisting of players from England and Northern Ireland who were happy that their independence was not being compromised, took part in the Olympics and did not lose their independence, then it would look odd if Scottish players did not participate. But Scotland and England and each of the home countries have got to be convinced that they will maintain their independence in the World Cup. In an ideal world, any Scot would have a chance—as we said earlier—to walk on the track at the Olympic opening ceremony, whatever their sport, but the SFA has to maintain its independence.

  Q198  Gordon Banks: You do not think that decision is going to be detrimental to the attraction of Scotland hosting anything, training camps or anything?

  Ms Bracewell: Football in the Olympics is only an under-23 event. It is not the biggest Olympic event so I do not think it would be a problem from the perception of the Olympics at all.

  Q199  Mr Davidson: Is there any spill over at all from the SFA's decision to the Commonwealth Games bid?

  Ms Bracewell: I would not have thought so because football is not in the Commonwealth Games and Hampden, of course, is going to be the athletics venue of the Commonwealth Games and the SFA is completely behind that, so I do not see how that would affect that.

2   See Ev 47 Back

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