‘Simply isn’t fair’ for Fifa to threaten sanctions against individual palyers says Mark Drakeford
The First Minister Mark Drakeford has said that it “simply isn’t fair” for Fifa to switch from threatening sanctions against football associations to individual players over the ‘One Love’ armbands.
Wales will not wear an anti-discrimination armband in their World Cup match against the USA on Monday after the suggestion that players wearing them would be given yellow cards.
Mark Drakeford, who is in Qatar, defended the Welsh FA’s decision which was taken in a joint statement with seven other European nations.
“The Welsh FA has always said that they would pay a fine that Fifa would impose on them,” he told the World at One. “They were prepared to do that because they wanted to use the armband and everything it symbolises.
“But today the ground rules changed and Fifa were threatening sanctions that would have affected individual players, penalising players
“And that simply isn’t fair. It’s one thing for a football association to take a hit but it’s quite different for individuals.”
He added: “The Welsh players have spoken out. They have spoken out in interviews. The Football Association itself has been absolutely rock solid in saying that they are here to speak up for the values that matter for people in Wales.
“Human rights, the rights of LGBTQ+ people as well, and the fact that they have done that so solidly – I don’t think there’s any reason to imagine that they won’t want to go on doing that.
“I’ve always believed myself that you cannot divorce sport from culture and the circumstances in which sport is played. My own interest in politics a very long time ago now was kindled when as a teenager I became part of the anti-apartheid movement in Wales. And that was very much focused on sport.
“Wales is here of course to use the platform that the World Cup provides but also to articulate the things that matter to people in Wales.
“I’ve been saying everywhere I go – Wales is an open and inclusive country that wants people to live their lives as they would choose to do so.
“We haven’t always been like that. We haven’t always been like that. In my own lifetime. So a moment to pause and reflect on our own history is not I think a moment lost.
Mark Drakeford also defended his decision to go to Qatar and attend business meetings there amid concerns over human rights in the country.
He pointed to the fact that Qatar was investing millions of pounds in expanding a major gas terminal in Wales.
“In the end, I am the First Minister of Wales,” he said. “I think that comes with some responsibilities to represent Wales at a rare occasion when Wales are on a platform such as that of a World Cup.
“I’ve had a series of meetings. Mostly today they’ve been with business interests. People who have investments in Wales already and looking to have further investments. 20% of the LNG -the liquid natural gas that we rely on in the UK – comes into the UK through Wales.
“And last week Qatar energy and other investors announced further significant investments in Pembrokeshire to secure energy for us for the future and we have many other investments here in Wales.”
Mark Drakeford said he didn’t think it was “weird” that he was in Qatar striking deals while controversy raged over the World Cup.
“The fact that we are here for a major sporting occasion is an opportunity to do all sorts of other things. When I went to Tokyo for the Rugby World Cup I took a whole delegation of dignitaries.
“It’s because we have the engagement of that sort that we have an influence on the way that matters develop into the future.”
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Is Mark Drakeford’s committment on climate change clearly also flexible as well as human rights, encouraging more fossil fuel development, which benefits the rest of the UK more than it does Wales?
It isn’t fair. But life isn’t fair. Fifa isn’t fair Qatar isn’t fair.
The World Cup of Hate isn’t fair.
What are you going to do, Mark, to correct that? Lots of statements. No action. Corrupt Fifa act with impugnity. And all the little cowards roll over and bear their botties.
Worse than that they rush to Qatar cos they just can’t resist a well funded jolly – loads of freebies while they are over there and us mugs paying travel and hotel costs. And he persists with his “I’m honest joe I should be a saint act”.
An extremely difficult to be put in (what are the rules with yellow cards this year? Are they as harsh as Euro 2016?) but what an opportunity to stand with members of the LGBTQ+ community.
There aren’t any easy answers here, except not to do what David Beckham is currently doing, but history will write positively about anyone who does the difficulty but right thing.
The right thing was/is not to go near the effin’ place. But they can’t resist a freebie even if the devil is running the show.