An own goal

I was horrified to read in this report that sports minister Hugh Robertson has written to FIFA seeking permission for both the English and Welsh football teams to wear poppies in their respective international matches this weekend.

It might well be appropriate for him to write on behalf of the English Football Association, but he should certainly not be writing on behalf of the Football Association of Wales. Huw Lewis is the minister with responsibility for sport in the Welsh government, and football is administered by separate associations in Wales and England. Therefore any request from a politician on behalf of Wales should have been made by him ... or at the very least a request should have been made by him and Hugh Robertson jointly.

Is Huw Lewis on the ball? Was he approached by the FAW but refused to take it up? Or did the FAW not approach him and go straight to Hugh Robertson instead? Perhaps Robertson took it upon himself to include Wales ... but if so, why did he not include Scotland, who are also playing this weekend? Someone has scored an own goal, and we need to get to the bottom of what happened.

We are rightly concerned that Wales' status as a separate team in international football has been questioned by some members of FIFA. A letter from a minister in Westminster on behalf of both the English and Welsh football associations will only serve to reinforce their argument that we should also play together rather than separately.

Bookmark and Share

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think this can be filed under "For Wales, see England" and the fact that Scotland is seen as an independent nation in so many ways while Wales is merely an adjunct to England.

Anonymous said...

Labour won't stand up for Welsh football.

Salmond came out full-square behind the SFA in the 'Team GB' nonsense. Did Carwyn or Huw Lewis say anything at all? Did the BBC ask them where they stood - no, easy ride as usual.

Labour would happily see an Englandandwales team, or, even better an England team like we have in cricket.

Anonymous said...

I don't know why Carwyn and Huw cannot just say 'we back whatever FAW believe is right'.

I've always thought that the relationship between our big sports (WRU and FAW) and the Welsh Gov have been very odd and weak (and it could be a force for good!)- why is this? I mean I've never heard of any initiative to help communities via the FAW which could so easily be done e.g like the GAA in Ireland.

Hendre said...

It would be interesting to know how this came about but as for Hugh Robertson... let the pompous, hypocritical git fuss over poppies on behalf of the FAW – he still won’t get them to agree to a GB football team!

As an aside, I don’t believe Hugh Robertson has made any public statement regarding the death of a Welsh football supporter at the home of English football. Strange that.

Anonymous said...

Given Huw Lewis views on devolution isn't it just as likely that he actually supported Robertson's intervention either because he believes that is the responsibility of the 'proper' government in Westminster, or because he (and the rest of his party) secretly hope for the FAW and Welsh team to be abolished as it is a symbol of Welsh nationhood, or even because he knows it will 'upset the NATS.'

Anonymous said...

This, along with Labour's economic sabotage and the emerging .cymru scandal pretty much sum up that party's real attitude to Wales.

Jac o' the North said...

When I was a kid people wore poppies because so many had personal experience of the Second World War, even the Great War (as it was called). The feelings were genuine and sincere.

But now English and Brit politicians are pushing the poppy and all that goes with it for crudely political reasons. Because we know that, if it wasn't for devolution and the 'threat' it is perceived to carry, there would be none of the current fuss.

It really annoys me to see opportunistic and unprincipled politicos pushing the poppy in this, 'you-must-wear-a-poppy' way . . . supposedly in rememberance of those who died for freedom of thought and speech.

MH said...

Before blaming Huw Lewis, I'd first want to know whether he was asked. If the FAW went straight to Hugh Robertson, then the own goal is theirs.

But I'm leaning to the view that Robertson did it without being by the FAW, thinking he was being "helpful". In which case the FAW should be aware that this has more potential to threaten their independent status, because at least Sepp Blatter has given assurances on the Olympic team (the question is what will happen when he goes) and should tell Robertson in no uncertain terms that it was none of his business. I think Huw Lewis should do the same, but somehow I don't think he has the backbone.

MH said...

I was gobsmacked at what Carwyn said about .cymru yesterday. Somehow it was even worse because he said it in Welsh.

-

The "compulsory poppy wearing" as practised by the likes of the BBC is distasteful, Jac. And I've always admired Jon Snow for his stance. But if people want to wear it, then let them.

I completely support having a day of remembrance for those killed in war, but the modern version has far too much militarism for my liking. In recent years the deaths suffered by our forces have been small compared to the number of civilian non-combatants our forces have killed, but there is hardly any acknowledgement of that in the ceremonies. After the First World War, the emphasis of remembrance was on the sheer pointlessness and waste of human life. If we had held true to those values, the way we remember those killed in war would be very different.

Hendre said...

Should Huw Lewis (if minded) raise any objections he would be immediately condemned for his ‘immaturity’ by the Dog Food Woman of Amersham or one of her minions. The ‘immature’ label seems to have become the default (and tiresome) response of the Coalition Govt to the Welsh Government/Assembly.

Anonymous said...

Slightly off topic, but if Plaid are, as is rumoured, in talks over the budget with Labour, then yesterday's slap in the face by the FM over .cymru must be addressed as part of any deal.

Anonymous said...

Also slightly off topic, but - while I admire a lot of the good work they do helping veterans and their families - I have problems with the British Nationalism of the British Legion. I think it's institutionally anti-Welsh language. Three pieces of evidence (hardly representative or all bang up-to-date, so please correct me if my impression is wrong): 1) New office opened in Walter Road in Swansea in 2009 - large signs above the shop window, only in English. 2) In Aber in the late 90s they used to have a yellow caravan in the town centre selling poppies. Emblazened on the side it said something to the effect that it was their "Cardiganshire Branch". Again, all in English and someone had gone out of their way to used the name Cardiganshire rather than the official name of Ceredigion or at least a bilingual Cardiganshire/Sir Aberteifi. I was in their Llandudno function rooms in September and, while there were lots of pictures of members of the Royal Family hanging up, I don't recall seeing any Welsh iconography.
Regardless of what one thinks of the British Legion, it is clear that the BritNat establishment are making a big effort to instrumentalise remembrance to shore up the UK.
Efrogwr

Anonymous said...

I was wondering if you'll make a blog about AM's in general. I've read profiles of many Labour AM's- and it seems they've had pretty low skilled jobs (even Ministers). But have somehow joined a Union at the right time and thus became AM's.

Surely this should be exposed? I'm not against cashiers becoming legislators- but putting them in as Ministers with no expertise in the field is wrong?

Only in Wales said...

its not be the most PC thing to say but not all the players in the current or previous Wales National Football teams are Welsh, listen to the accents many of them are English and eligible to play for Wales via a parent, aunt uncle etc, they play for English clubs which means they have little understanding or connection to Wales other than playing international football in Cardiff once in a while.

Could this be a reason for the English FA, UK and Welsh Government's attitude thinking Welsh football being essentially British?

MH said...

I don't have much time for that, OIW. The eligibility criteria for Wales are no different from those for other countries. Yes, that means that a number of players will have a choice of which country to play for; but if they choose Wales, they're Welsh. That's perfectly good enough for me.

Most players just want to focus on playing football. As for understanding the wider national implications of the game, that is a matter much more for the FAW as an organization than for individual players.

Welsh Ramblings said...

This is a dangerous precedent.

As for Only in Wales at 22:30- no it isn't the reason. It is an established convention in international football for players to have nationality different to where they were born through parental or family ties. An English-born player like Ashley Williams for example, who now claims that he is Welsh (and lives and works in Wales of course) can only be a good thing as far as being a patriotic role model for the youth. The reasons for attacks on Welsh football are not about the players but are to do with politics, commercialism and British nationalism.

Only in Wales said...

MH and Welsh Ramblings, I wasn't criticizing players i know what the rules say about eligibility and the precedents, I was pointing out that from a political perspective such as the English FA and the Governments that the Welsh International football team can resemble an England B team, so a team GB to them is perfectly logical and non controversial.

Scotland and Northern Ireland don't have these problems and I can't see England ever allowing half a dozen Welsh players to play in their team, so why does Welsh football keep allowing this to happen instead of developing Welsh players and not weakening their case further to be a stand alone Association.

MH said...

You talk about "these problems" but the only problem is yours, OIW. Where someone's born doesn't define their nationality.

Anonymous said...

OiW is wrong, there are alot of players from Scotland and NI who weren't born there- Scotland especially. The political line from the SFA has been stronger than the FAW (slightly) because of Scottish football's greater relative independence. Welsh football is less independent because of our players' overwhelming involvement in the English premiership and the semi-pro status of the Welsh Premiership. What is not a problem si nationality. OiW is trying to explain this but going about it the wrong way.

I'm wary of blaming or booing the players. They have been deliberately targeted by a range of commercial and political interests including Adidas and the Olympic Organising Committee. As individuals they are powerless in what is a corrupt world of money and sponsorship. Welsh international football can offer only the prospect of loyalty. The sport has been weakened and damaged by interests who would ultimately like to see international football downgraded or abolished altogether in order to get more out of the big money spinning domestic season. The sole exception is the status of the World Cup, and Wales' chances of participation there will be significantly undermined by this whole scenario. The Team GB crusade has politicised the game and undermined the nations.

Where OiW might have point is not about the players, that is not a problem, but about the political culture in Scotland versus Wales. The institutions in Scotland are much braver and have more self-respect than the institutions in Wales, who tend to be happier to be in an England and Wales or British framework.

Anonymous said...

To add, what has impressed has been the solidity of the Welsh fanbase against these moves. Welsh football fans overwhelmingly follow teams that compete in the English leagues. But when it comes to international status they clearly value Wales' distinct identity. They see no contradiction in this and I think the vocal sections of support have done a good job in making sure the message gets out that the Team GB concept is corrupt. I question whether fans alone can ever stop the Olympic juggernaught, a monstrosity worth billions of pounds. But by getting the message out they have made Team GB concept seem dishonourable and unsporting.

Anonymous said...

The question remains and is even more pertinent today with the colonial grab for the millennium stadium for the olymics. Where is Carwyn Jones? Where is Huw Lewis? Why don't Plaid AMs put them on the spot on this?

Anonymous said...

"Where is Carwyn Jones? Where is Huw Lewis? Why don't Plaid AMs put them on the spot on this?"

Exactly!!

Post a Comment