Author Topic: What about equal rights Platini?  (Read 2214 times)

Offline David

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What about equal rights Platini?
« on: June 20, 2007, 09:19:08 AM »
Paul Abbandonato looks at a gender discrimination case which underlines the folly of our Big Three not being allowed into Europe

A QUICK question for our football powers-that-be at home and abroad.

How come Cardiff City play in the English League and FA Cup, yet are barred from the Welsh Cup by our own FAW and from competing in Europe by Uefa?

And how come, by contrast, Cardiff City Ladies play in the English league and FA Cup, yet have just won the Welsh Cup and participate next season in the women’s Uefa Cup?

These are the facts. And I know them to be so because the FAW have just sanctioned a £25,000 loan to Cardiff Ladies, money they will get back from Uefa, in order for them to compete against Europe’s elite in the women’s game this autumn.

Cardiff Ladies do so as a result of beating Caernarfon in the final to win the Welsh Cup, having earlier defeated Newport, Bridgend and Colwyn Bay.

Well done to them. As such, their name goes into the Uefa Cup draw next to the likes of Arsenal, Everton, Hibernian, Espanyol of Spain, Brondby from Denmark and Sparta Prague.

Michael Chopra and co, by contrast, have no European avenue open to them. Nor, of course, do Swansea City and Wrexham.

This has been the case for our “big three”, who have a history of fantastic achievements in the old European Cup-Winners’ Cup, since they were kicked out of the Welsh Cup in 1996 on the basis that they play in the English system.

The big three’s traditional places in Europe went instead to sides from the League of Wales.

This had to be the case, insisted the FAW, because Uefa decreed that in order to play in Europe, you had to play football in the system of the country where you were domiciled.

Hence the Bluebirds, Swans and Dragons were booted out of the Welsh Cup, because the FAW knew full well one of the big three would win the competition more often than not.

Yet they could never enter Europe via the Premiership, FA Cup or Carling Cup either, because the English FA say Cardiff, Swansea and Wrexham are Welsh clubs. Which, of course, they are.

For the record, Cardiff Ladies also ply their trade in the English system. They play in the Women’s Premier League against sides such as Chelsea, Fulham, Blackburn, Arsenal, Charlton and Sunderland.

For the record further, they beat Fulham in the FA Cup last season, before going out 2-1 to Leeds United.

They can do the above, yet are also permitted, under FAW and Uefa rules, to enter the Welsh Cup and qualify for Europe.

They can. The men can’t. How those two tie up is a question many should be throwing at Uefa’s new president Michel Platini.

At the very least, the issue I have just highlighted is an anomaly.

At worst, it is downright daft ... and even something which one or two could construe as gender discrimination.

What about equal rights for Cardiff City’s men and women, in this particular sporting case, is an argument that could be put forward with some validity?

“Oh, it’s just women’s football,” some will doubtless sneer.

That argument doesn’t even begin to hold water.

Women’s football is the fastest growing sport in the world and one which Uefa, quite rightly, treat with the utmost importance.

They encourage participation, domestically and in European competitions, and have organised various events on an international level, so much kudos do they place on the modern women’s game.

Uefa have even set up a special women’s committee, which has top delegates from Germany, France and Holland sitting on it.

So that particular committee can hardly be construed as a throwaway organisation made up of representatives from European football’s lesser lights.

For the record once again, delegates from Sweden, Norway, Bulgaria, Romania, Scotland and the FAW’s own vice-president Phil Pritchard make up that particular Uefa body.

Platini himself, one of the true greats of the world game and arguably the best footballer produced by France, himself openly extols the virtues of the women’s game.

His official line on Uefa’s website reads, “We must look to increase participation without discrimination on grounds of gender.”

He meant that about women’s sport.

Cardiff, Swansea and Wrexham would be within their rights to turn Platini’s comments on their head with regards their own enforced European exile.

Previewing last month’s Women’s Uefa Cup final, which Arsenal won, Platini wrote in the match programme, “I am particularly pleased to note that in recent years the women’s game has also continued its progression, on and off the field.

“What a great satisfaction it is for me, as a former player, to know that our Uefa Cup final will have players of top calibre participating in this big event.

“Let us sit back and enjoy women’s football at its highest level and support teams equally and in the best spirit of fair play.”

Enough platitudes from Platini there, I’m sure you will agree, to make people realise the esteem which Uefa attach to the women’s game.

Yet you can’t have it two ways. The women’s game, Uefa make it clear, is hugely important and to be treated, in their eyes, on a similar sort of level with the men’s game in some ways.

That being the case, their acceptance of Cardiff Ladies in the Women’s Uefa Cup is as clear an example as you can get of one rule for one, another rule for others.

Put more bluntly, one rule for our women, another rule for our men.

We wish to emphasise once more our admiration of the achievements of Cardiff Ladies.

They are clearly the top team in their sport in Wales, they promote the women’s game by playing week in, week out against teams like Arsenal.

We back them 100 per cent in flying the flag for the capital city and the country as a whole in European football next season.

But the fact they have the opportunity to do so, while Dave Jones’ side don’t, is a clear contradiction.

It’s one the FAW and Uefa should address as a matter of urgency.

Offline Dr Gonzo

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Re: What about equal rights Platini?
« Reply #1 on: June 20, 2007, 11:28:50 AM »
Uch it's they're own silly fault.  The so called big three could quite easily have joined the Welsh league when it was being set up.  Goodness knows there were enough efforts to persuade them to join.  If they had then they would have been in Europe on a regular basis, but they decided to go for the money and play in the English league (which contravenes UEFA rules as it is).  Indeed even when English clubs were banned from Europe the Welsh ones were allowed to compete in the English league.  So they've done alright out of it so far....

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Offline twmcat

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Re: What about equal rights Platini?
« Reply #2 on: October 29, 2007, 01:43:44 AM »
Sorry I'm a bit late here, but the 3 current men's teams playing in the football league would have generally always been the top 3 in a Welsh league, and, for instance, Cardiff wouldn't have been able to attract Robbie Fowler if he knew he'd just be playing the other 2 at best, and otherwise the likes of TNS and Rhyl.

Swansea not so long ago opened a new ground - it would have been wasted if it was just used for Welsh league games, the attendances would be so low.

I've been to Rhyl's ground a few times for women's games. It's not a bad little ground, but wouldn't be a place that Fowler etc would like to travel to on a regular basis, let alone other grounds in Wales.

And, with the mention of Colwyn Bay women playing in the Women's Cup - the men there are playing in an English league too.

I know it's all confusing, but my worry is always the possible attempts to enforce a British or UK national team and league.
The IOC have defeated England's chances of playing in the next Olympics despite them saying before the WWC that the top 3 placed European teams would qualify, as they want a GB team. And now we have Norway and Denmark playing off for that 3rd place, despite England reaching a round further than them.

Personally, despite being Welsh, I wouldn't mind if the current England team were allowed to represent GB or UK in the next Olympics.
If they were allowed to take Welsh or Scottish players in their squad, all the better - Ludlow and Fleets could only benefit them (assuming Hope Powell would include them).

It's all politics in the end though.

The pic is Tytti Porkka of Finland - I actually took it myself, but have lost all my pics and have no more :(