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England is the country in which Association football was created (1863). The first international game was played against Scotland followed by Wales and Ireland. Initially the home countries declined to join FIFA. All four had fully functioning football associations complete with league divisions, individual national cup competitions and played international games against each other decades before FIFA was formed in 1904. England did eventually join in 1905 when FIFA asked for help and the other home countries were automatically accepted as separate entities. The home countries withdrew again after the First World War and stayed out of FIFA until after the Second World War when once again the four GB associations were allowed to rejoin separately as they had originally done. The situation is unique. Other places such as Holland or Fryslân do not have a national team as they form part of the Netherlands which similar to Great Britain are made up of more than one country. As a country England has been legally and internationally an autonomous region of Great Britain since the Acts of Union 1707. The four British football associations have constantly resisted amalgamation. With devolution individual country status is becoming strengthened. Scotland now once again has a Parliament and Wales and Northern Ireland their own Assemblies leaving the four home countries with greater levels of independence. This is the main reason the Scottish and Welsh FA are boycotting the formation of a Great Britain team entering the 2012 Olympic Games because they see a GB football team as a threat that could undermine their independent football associations. The English are more relaxed about a one off GB team and will probably enter the England team to represent Great Britain. England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland also enjoy a level of independence in the Commonwealth Games made up of former British colonial countries but not the European and World games in which Great Britain is entered as one nation (Not to be confused with the UEFA and FIFA European and World cups). As for Catalonia, similar to Holland being an autonomous region of the Netherlands, Catalonia is an autonomous region of Spain with no international recognition as an independent state.

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Q: Why is England allowed to compete as a national team in FIFA world cup while Catalonia isn't?
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