Wales' sports minister waits as language row rages

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Fri May 12 12:16:40 UTC 2006

Pugh left to wait as language row rages

By Hywel Trewyn, Daily Post

WALES' sports minister was last night still waiting for a reply four
months after asking language-row soccer bosses for an urgent meeting.
Football Association Wales' policy not to communicate in Welsh sparked
anger and a campaign, supported by politicians and sports chiefs, to
change its mind. Sports and culture minister Alun Pugh wrote to FAW bosses
in January, requesting a meeting to resolve the row. But four months on
and the Clwyd West AM is still waiting for a reply, he said.

Local Caernarfon league secretary, John Pritchard, brought the issue to
light, claiming the Cardiff-based FAW was flouting international rules
against language discrimination. Mr Pritchard protested to football
governing body Fifa. He claimed the FAW refused to reply to his letters in
Welsh, and then refused to allow Welsh to be used in meetings. Speaking
about the FAW's failure to get in touch, Mr Pugh said yesterday:
"Increasing the number of opportunities for people to participate in sport
and physical activity through the medium of Welsh, is a key aim of the
Welsh Assembly Government's strategy for sport and physical activity,
Climbing Higher.

"This participation also offers many opportunities to promote the Welsh
Assembly Government's vision of a bilingual Wales, as set out in its
national action plan for a bilingual Wales, Iaith Pawb." Fifa have since
side-stepped the issue saying it's up to the FAW. FAW secretary general
David Collins had written: "Until the council takes a different decision,
that will remain our policy." An FAW spokeswoman, on behalf of Mr Collins,
said the council was discussing the Welsh language policy and it was "down
to them".

Mr Collins claimed he had replied to the Assembly and they were going to
meet. Mr Pritchard's campaign is being supported by Plaid Cymru and the
Tories, as well as other football leagues who want the FAW to reconsider
its language policy. Gareth Edwards of Caernarfon Online wrote to first
minister Rhodri Morgan and the minister for social justice and
regeneration Edwina Hart supporting Mr Pri tchard ' s campaign. In
response, Mr Pugh said it had "encouraged the FAW to increase its use of
the Welsh language to enable its clients to conduct their business with
their national governing body in the language of their choice, and to
contribute to increasing the number of sport and physical activity
opportunities through the Welsh language."

Mr Pritchard has reiterated his call for FAW councillors and committees to
change their English-only policy and carry out its business bilingually.
He's also repeated his call for Mr Collins to resign. Mr Prichard said:
"The fact that the FAW have not responded to the Assembly's request to
discuss this matter is a disgrace. David Collins has to go." Mr Edwards
added: "I'm very disappointed with the FAW. They should be able to respond
to correspondence in Welsh."

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