Sunday, November 13, 2011

Bale, Ramsey, and Team GB.

Two of Welsh Football's big-wigs live in Welshpool. So it was inevitable that the names, Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey came up in our conversation after the Remembrance Service today. Phil Pritchard is the current Chairman of the FAW, and Tegwyn Evans has been involved for several decades. First thing to be said is that Gareth and Aaron are two of the most gifted young players in the world, and would walk into any team representing GB. And next year may be the only chance they ever have of playing at an Olympic Games. I agree with Wales manager, Gary Speed that its a matter for the two footballers whether they play for Team GB next summer. Phil and tegwyn are not convinced.

There's a real issue behind the row that's broken out after Gareth and Aaron appeared in our press wearing Team GB shirts - even though it was as part of their sponsorship agreement with Adidas. Its about the future participation of Wales in international tournaments. Some very large countries (Germany, France, Spain, Italy etc) compete as one country, and several FIFA members see no reason why GB should, in effect, enter 4 teams. Phil and Tegwyn tell me that there is pressure to change the position - and they fear that allowing one Team GB to compete in the Olympics will set a dangerous precedent. It seems that there is unlikely to be a problem while Sepp Blatter remains in post - but perhaps afterwards.

No time at all for the mindless so-called Wales fans who barracked the two Welsh stars after yesterdays fabulous 4-1 victory over Norway. They might have thought it clever to take the headlines away from the game and from the victory. All they will achieve is to drive away the two key players who delivered the win. Is it a typical Welsh thing to be happier losing gallantly, rather than winning gloriously - and attracting the best Welsh players to turn out for the national team. Ask yourself how often Giggs has played for Wales over his amazing career.

But there is an issue - and its no good just ignoring it. Its too late for the 2012 Olympics, but we should launch a campaign to have Wales included in future Olympics. Its an issue I will raise in Parliament. It will be the subject of my entry into the ballot for PMQs this week. Be a good chance to bring the names of two great Welshmen, Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey to the attention of the non-footballing public of GB.


Britnot said...

Totally with you on this one Glyn although from what I've heard the so called barracking amounted to no more than a chant of "Welsh not British". Your excellent solution cannot come quickly enough as it would negate the divisive issues of Welsh v British. I would have fancied our chances had we been able to enter a team next year!

Jake said...

Wow Glyn- surprised by your comment (in a good way!!).

I agree, there is no risk to FAW during Blatter's period- but after I think there will be pressure if Wales play as part of a 'Team GB'. And obviously the loss of FAW would be disastrous (I assume Wales would lose income from UEFA, the chance to play in Champs League / UEFA cup.... this no doubt eventually drips to the grassroots). I hope that Bale/Ramsay will change their mind- and I really do think with these issues they should ask the FAW what their opinion is. The next big risk is IF Scotland gets independence- FIFA will find it easy to merge NI and FAW (as they're quite weak). The only way I can see a Welsh player playing is if there was a written guarantee securing our independence for x decades.

What I am surprised- is are you asking for a separate Welsh team to be in the IOC? Never thought a Conservative would do this! But I agree- I could never imagine supporting GB Rugby team, and it is kinda weird in the Olympics. I've always thought that even if England/Scot/Wal had their own teams, we could still share facilities- just like we do in Commonwealth Games. And also it'll give the opportunity for more Welsh stars to get a chance in the Olympics, that may not be 'quite' good enough to be in Team GB. But I don't think this would go down well with your Conservative colleagues!

But I agree with you; I really do feel more pride supporting Wales than supporting GB (I don't know why- it might be because of the anthems!!).

Good luck with your q at PMQ's- I'll actually listen to hear DC's reaction!.... and no doubt it'll be a hot topic on the Radio Wales phone in!

Jake said...

And just to add Glyn; according to Wikipedia there are some non-sovereign states that DO have Olympic Teams e.g Hong Kong and Puerto Rico..... let's start the campaign!

Who know- the Welsh Olympic Committee may even bid for the Olympiad to come to Welshpool!!!!!!!

MH said...

You'll smile when I say that you are sometimes able to amaze me, Glyn. Have you ever mentioned Wales having its own team in the Olympics before? I've not heard you say this, even when others have been discussing the subject in the blogosphere. But I'm glad to hear you say it now.

However, you'll probably be aware that this was the subject of a petition to the Assembly in 2008, and the response of the BOA was to say that the IOC would only allow applications from independent states. The matter was then dropped. Andrew RT Davies, who was on the committee, seemed rather pleased.

The only problem is that the BOA gave duff advice. There are twelve non-independent territories that already have Olympic teams: Chinese Taipei, Palestine, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Aruba, Hong Kong and the Cook Islands.

So why not Wales? But more importantly, how do you propose we campaign to make it happen?

Glyn Davies said...

This is not an issue that I've been involved in before. Can't be involved in everything. Reason I blogged on it today was that I discussed the issue at length with the Chairman of the FAW at remembrance services on Friday and again today. Also discussed it with Tegwyn Evans who has been a great stalwart of the FAW for several decades. They are both longstanding friends of mine, who live in welshpool.

I believe much of the concern amongst African countries in particular is to do with voting rights on FIFA.

It seems to me that its too late to change the arrangemnets for 2012, and I'd like to make an effort for 2016 onwards. I'm sure that the FAW will have its ideas about how to campaign, but there may be a role for Westminster politicians. I will discuss the issue with Jeremy Hunt and Ed Vaisey when I have the chance - and will table questions to DCMS and the Prime Minister, though I'm on an appalling run being unsuccessful in the questions ballots.

MH and Jake - you worry me a bit. I had no idea there was a 'political' aspect to this. And had no idea that Conservatives are thought to have a negative attitude towards Wales having their own teams in international sport. I'll have to tell all my rugby supporting colleagues about this.

MH said...

I've never thought to divide up my life into what is "political" and what isn't, Glyn. Things overlap. If you want to regard this as something that should be "non-political", that's fine by me ... but why are you hoping to raise it in the Commons if you don't think there's a political aspect to it?

For me, being a nationalist encompasses all aspects of Welsh life. I'm just as concerned that Wales has its own place in the world in sport, art, music, literature, philosophy, science, technology, industry ... and whatever else anyone can think of. Let's make it a broad campaign that people can support whether they consider it a political issue or not.

Glyn Davies said...

MH - that's fine with me. I want to raise it in the Commons because I have a voice there, which is sometimes reported more widely. Nothing wrong with you making it political - just that I didn't know it was. That aspect must have passed me by.

Anonymous said...

Good on you Glyn but I'm afraid you'll be told by your party to drop this stance pretty soon. :-)

Jake said...

I don't know if it's political.... well I thought so until you commented at 10.21pm.

But yes, you seem to have made me really think about it (which I'm quite angry you made me do on a Sunday night!!).

And I just cannot explain it; but with sport I really DO find it hard to get behind a "Team GB" whereas when Wales play at anything I'm behind them passionately. Although I watch the Lions- am I "passionate" for them like I am on match day at the Millenium Stadium? No. So you've really made me think- is there, somewhere inside me a spark of a nationalist?.

I hope that sport isn't seen as political. But I feel that the Team GB fiasco has been made political- with politicians wanting to see a Team GB rather than respect what FAW wanted. Another example was MP's calling for poppy's during the games this weekend- why was this never called over the past 80yrs? And although I wear mine with pride, I did side with FIFA on this- as it may allow countries like Iran to wear some sort of anti-israel "remembrance".

Anyway back to the point- I don't think sport is political; but maybe it is. I think it'll be interesting what some of your colleagues (in particular DC will think)- then we'll know if it is political.

Either way, I think it would be a great idea not just for us supporters- but for Welsh Athletes too- (for as long as facilities which the UK Gov through UK athletics have funded, continued to be shared).

If we're good enough for football/rugby; why can't we be in the Olympics?

Jac o' the North said...

Glyn, Team GB is more about politics than sport. I can recall the idea of a UK soccer team being mooted back in 2000 by Jack Straw, when Labour was getting worried about devolution. (Around the time it got the 'Welsh' Daily Mirror launched.) And this was not just for the Olympics.

Politics even influences the attitudes of some of the other countries you mention. For if Wales and Scotland can have their own teams then it surely encourages Basques, Bretons, Catalans, Sicilians, etc., to demand the same.

Further, we are currently enduring a co-ordinated 'Britishness' offensive in preparation for the Scottish referendum. We have just seen the most heavily promoted poppy campaign for decades; next year we shall see OTT celebrations of the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics.

On the plus side, it seems possible that the SNP will call the referendum in 2014, the 700th anniversary of Bannockburn, when the British State has little to celebrate, and nothing to compete, in the Scottish consciousness, with the Bruce's victory. But they'll still try.

And by the way, I'm surprised that anyone should trust the word of Sepp Blatter, or anyone else at Fifa.

Anonymous said...

good luck to you with the questions Glyn if you can get some clarity on the situation of Wales and the Olympics that would be something.

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure the Lib Dems had this in their Assembly manifesto some years ago. Maybe you could ask them if they're still in support.