Great Britain’s ladies beat New Zealand 1-0 in their opening Olympic match, but only 24,549 people bothered to turn up in Cardiff.
The Olympic football tournaments have not really captured the imagination of the public, but there’s still time for that to happen. But there’s little chance, however, that the ladies game will catch fire.
Why insist on playing these games in huge stadia that are never going to be full – thus making the event look second best. Why not play at smaller grounds where the glass will be half-full rather than half-empty?
When the Olympics were last in Britain, 1948, the football was played at Brighton, Portsmouth, Fulham, Selhurst Park, Arsenal, Ilford, Walthamstow, Tottenham, Dulwich, Brentford and of course, Wembley for the semi-finals and final.
The final, between Great Britain and Denmark, which the Danes won 5-3, was played in front of 50,000 – so not even a full-house in what was a golden post-war era for the game.
Back to 2012 and the shambolic events at Hampden Park when the South Korean flag was “unfurled” instead of their Northern neighbours. Ouch! Good job the crowd was mostly freebies! One thing’s for certain, Hampden Park is unlikely to be chosen again. Another blow for the credibility of Olympic football…another blow for the Scottish game.
There’s plenty of decent grounds around for these games and absolutely no need for Wembley and Old Trafford to hog the limelight. In truth, you don’t need a 75,000 capacity.