Paul Parker

Pearce right to ditch Beckham

Paul Parker

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Stuart Pearce has made the right decision leaving David Beckham out of the British football squad for the Olympics.

We needed to decide whether the team was going to be about PR or performance, and Pearce has made a good call.

Football is the winner, as it proves there is no room for sentiment and places have to be won on merit alone.

Beckham may be a global ambassador and a figurehead for the Games, but it would be a nonsense to have included him simply on that basis.

I know he was enthusiastic from the Olympics from the very start, unlike some players. But I suspect that was simply because he knew it was his last chance of playing in a major tourament - and the simple fact is he is no longer up to it.

I'd be proud to play at the Olympics, but that doesn't mean Pearce should pick me.

The fact is that he just cannot claim to be at the same level as the three overage players - Ryan Giggs, Craig Bellamy and Micah Richards.

He is playing in a second-rate league, and simply cannot be expected to live with the likes of Brazil, who take the Olympics very seriously and have not had a continental championship this summer to deplete their playing resources.

I simply do not see why there would be any controversy about the selection. Unless we have become so cynical we are prepared to sacrifice medals for PR points, it should always have been the best available players who got the nod.

I am not happy about the selection of Richards, however. Players who went to Euro 2012 are not available to Pearce, but the only reason Richards did not go is because he refused a place on the standby list.

Phil Jagielka went on instead, and ended up in Poland and Ukraine after England suffered a spate of injuries.

Why should Richards effectively be rewarded for his disloyalty? It has become more and more fashionable for players to turn down their country unless they can play on their own terms - and the trend will only increase if players see there are no negative consequences.

For me, if you turn your back on your country you should not be picked again. And the introduction of that rule would make the likes of Richards think twice before snubbing the standby list.

I think Rio Ferdinand would have been the ideal selection instead of Richards. He is vastly experienced, still playing at a very high level and has something to prove after his Euro 2012 snub.

However, I am pleased that Giggs and Bellamy have been picked. Not because they are token Welsh players, but because this will be their one and only chance to play at a major international competition.

Bellamy always gives 100 per cent on the pitch, and he will be fired up, while Giggs offers abundant experience in a young squad.

I know Giggs is even older than Beckham, but he is supremely fit and still plays in one of the world's most challenging leagues. For me, there is no comparison between the two.

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