Pearce predicts Olympics impact

24 July 2012 09:17

Team GB coach Stuart Pearce believes the Olympic football tournament is in danger of being underestimated.

Those who remain unconverted to the idea of football being part of London 2012 would have had all their pre-conceptions underlined at Old Trafford on Tuesday. A grand total of seven reporters, plus a BBC crew, were in the Europa Suite as Pearce, accompanied by skipper Ryan Giggs, looked ahead to GB's opening match against Senegal on Thursday.

The press conference itself had been brought forward by 24 hours to allow for greater coverage of Hope Powell's women's side, who open the entire Games in Cardiff on Wednesday afternoon. Greeted with scores of empty seats, Pearce smiled and said: "We could have done this in my bedroom."

Seventy thousand people have been enthused enough to get themselves tickets for Thursday's game, the second part of a double header that also includes tournament heavyweights Uruguay taking on United Arab Emirates. And Pearce feels those at the game, and the ones watching on TV, are in for a shock.

"We do belittle," he said. "If I roll the clock back a calendar year, I was fortunate to go with England to Colombia for the Under-20s World Cup.

"We played a group match against Argentina in front of 44,000 people. The standard was fantastic, the tournament and the exposure were fantastic. Very few people in England knew there was a tournament going on. That is how we underestimate tournaments. The same will apply to the Olympics.

"Once it gets started and they see the magnitude of the teams, the professionalism and the standard of football they will see, they will sit up and take notice."

Pearce certainly gives off the vibe of someone keen to do well. And he positively bristled at the suggestion the women's game has far more to gain from their Olympic experience.

"I find it quite sad if it was viewed that way," he said. "Every individual who has the opportunity to participate in this Olympics will come away a better player for it.

"We also hope that the fans come away from the games having enjoyed a great game of football."

Source: PA