Weir and Team GB face Chile in the opening match of the competition next Wednesday
Credit: GETTY IMAGES
Scotland international Caroline Weir is undecided over whether to sing ‘God Save The Queen’ when Team GB open their Olympics football campaign next Wednesday.
The Manchester City midfielder is one of only three non-English players in Hege Riise’s squad in Tokyo, alongside compatriot Kim Little and Wales’ Sophie Ingle, the respective captains of the Scotland and Wales national teams.
Team GB face Chile in the opening match of the competition – and one of the first event of the entire Olympic Games – on July 21 in the northern city of Sapporo. The Games officially begin on Friday, July 23.
Asked whether she would be “belting” out England’s national anthem, Weir said: “It’s something that I’ll have a think about. As I said before, I’m a really proud Scot but I’m also a really proud Brit. My focus will be on the game and I’m here to do a job so that’s all I’ll be thinking about.”
The Manchester City midfielder added: “Just for certain reasons, it’s something I have to think about. I would be naive to think that it’s something that I would have to dismiss. It’s something that me, Soph [Sophie Ingle] and Kim [Little] individually have to come to our own decisions and we’ll do that when the timing’s right.”
When pressed on what those “reasons” might be, Weir, who played 60 minutes in Team GB’s warm-up game against New Zealand on Wednesday which they won 3-0 – declined to comment further.
In the UK, only the first verse of ‘God Save The Queen’ is typically sung at official sporting events, including at the Olympics. However, there have been calls in the past to make the lyrics in the country’s lesser-known sixth and final verse less offensive to Scottish people.
The verse, which is thought to have emerged in 1745 but was never standardised, urges God to help 17th Century commander Marshal Wade "crush" the "rebellious Scots” in reference to the Jacobite rising of 1715.
On Thursday, it was confirmed that Ingle and Little will captain the side on a rotational basis throughout the tournament, alongside England skipper Steph Houghton. “I’m really happy for Kim, being made as one of the captains,” said Weir. “I think it’s really deserved. She leads by example more than speaking loudly. She has good things to say and when she does everyone listens. She’s well respected. She’ll never be the loudest one in the room but I think it’s great she’s leading this team alongside Soph and Steph.”
Weir is part of a small contingent of Scottish Olympians that will feature in team-based sports at the Games, which includes her former Hibernian FC teammate Sarah Robertson, who is the sole Scottish international – male or female – in Team GB’s hockey squad.
“I bumped into Sarah the other day, the hockey team had just arrived so I was chatting to her for a bit,” said Weir. “We worked out it was 2009 when she left Hibs. We played in a couple of Scotland teams together. It was a bit of a flashback to our Hibs days. She was always a really good hockey player, clearly. It’s great to see another Scot represent [Team] GB at the Olympics.”
Hege Riise’s team to take a knee before matches
Team GB women’s football team will take a knee ahead of kick-off in their games at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in support of the fight against racism and discrimination.
It comes after the International Olympic Committee relaxed Rule 50, which had previously banned athletes from taking a knee or protesting against human rights abuses on the podium and field of play or at the opening and closing ceremonies at this summer’s Games.
Organisers bowed to growing pressure earlier this month and will now allow peaceful protest prior to competition, although athletes may still face sanctions for any protests made on the medal podium.
Hege Riise, the Team GB head coach, said: “The players and staff have been taking the knee at club and international level for over a year now and we were all united in our decision to continue doing whatever we can to raise awareness of racism and discrimination in all its forms, standing in unity and solidarity with all those whose lives are affected.
“We are clear that taking the knee is an important symbol of peaceful protest against discrimination, injustice and inequality in society and we are glad that the IOC has acknowledged the importance of this form of freedom of expression.
“We will do so with the utmost respect for our fellow competitors, officials and the IOC, with due regard for the ideals that lie at the heart of the Olympic movement.”
Andy Anson, the British Olympic Association CEO, said: “As one of the most diverse and inclusive sports teams in the UK, Team GB will always support any athlete from any sport and their right to promote equality and a more just society, where it is carried out peacefully, respectfully and without disruption. By taking the knee our women’s football side are embodying the values of Team GB.”
Team GB also confirmed on Thursday that there will be a trio of captains on rotation throughout the tournament. England’s Steph Houghton, Scotland’s Kim Little and Wales’ Sophie Ingle will share the armband in leading Riise’s side.