They have a name for this. It's called a political football and they kick it around the corridors of power for limited benefit to the players.
Many people were swept along by the moment when London won the Olympic bid.
It was surely the biggest moment for British sport in several generations and can only have been good news for sportspeople and sports fans alike.
Yet buried in the small print all along has been a clause that is now setting one home nation against another.
Since the Singapore decision in 2005 the British Olympic Association (BOA) started up discussions with the Football Associations of England, Scotland Wales and Northern Ireland to find a way to put together a truly British team in both men's and women's competition for the Olympics.
The BOA tried to get Fifa to accept the England women's team as Great Britain's representatives for the Beijing Games next summer. "No problem", was the effective reply, "as long as all the home nations agree to that".
Stalemate once again.
While the Football Associations of England and Northern Ireland have been keen on the idea, the Scottish and Welsh FAs do not want to encourage something they feel could threaten their individual existences in international football.
This week the British Olympic Association has received confirmation from the International Olympic Committee that the host qualifying rule will apply to all team sports. To translate the legalese - it means that the BOA has won the argument.
When it comes to the Olympics the IOC have sway, not Fifa, and the BOA can select who they want to represent us. But it can't be that simple and, of course, it isn't.
Are the SFA and FAW right to hold back on the idea? Is Gordon Smith of the SFA right to hope that their players should not participate?
Given various quotas about players' ages and professional-to-amateur ratios, what would a British football team even look like? Could it be taken seriously without the participation of Scotland and Wales?
Should the England womens' football team (give or take a few members of the squad) represent Britain in Beijing?
And, all other things being equal, just what would your England/Scotland/Northern Ireland/Wales starting XI be?