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Welsh MPs call for Blatter to quit

Two Welsh Labour MPs have added their voices to the calls for Sepp Blatter to stand down as President of FIFA following the arrests in Switzerland as part of an FBI anti-corruption investigation. The Football Association of Wales has said it will vote against Sepp Blatter's re-election as FIFA President.

Rhondda MP Chris Bryant, who's the new Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, spoke on behalf of the Labour Party when the FIFA arrests were raised at Westminster.

Yesterday the whole world saw that beneath the mask the beautiful game has a very, very ugly face. Can anyone be in any doubt at all that FIFA is rotten to the core and needs swift and wholesale reform? What is particularly galling is that the value of the World cup is not created by FIFA but by the many millions of loyal fans around the world. Football belongs to the mums and dads taking their children to their first match and to the youngsters lining their bedroom walls with posters, not to the fat cats who have creamed off millions of pounds for themselves. Is it not inconceivable that Sepp Blatter should continue in post now that his own election as president in 2011 is under investigation by the Swiss authorities?

– Chris Bryant MP

Stephen Doughty MP suggested that Sepp Blatter was not the only FIFA officlal who should quit. He said that after years of allegations about the Zurich based organisation, the Swiss authorities also had some questions to answer.

I share the incredulity of many football fans that Sepp Blatter and the senior leadership of FIFA can remain in their positions after these allegations, which have been going on for some time. Does the Secretary of State agree that the Swiss Government need to take a serious look at how they regulate and oversee the activities and finances of international sporting organisations, including not only FIFA but the International Olympic Committee, UEFA and many other bodies located in Swiss territory?

– Stephen Doughty, Labour MP for Cardiff South & Penarth

The Secretary of State, John Whittingdale, said the Swiss authorities were now clearly taking the matter very seriously and working with the FBI. He said a change in leadership at FIFA was badly needed and he was pleased that the UK's four football's associations were all backing UEFA's call for action. He added that "this is merely the latest sorry episode to suggest that FIFA is a deeply flawed and corrupt organisation".


Ashley Smith retires from rugby

Credit: Nigel French/EMPICS Sport

Newport Gwent Dragons have confirmed that Ashley Smith has retired on medical grounds with immediate effect.

The club says Smith has suffered a series of concussive events and after expert advice he has decided to hang up his boots.

The Dragons academy product was identified at an early age as he went on to represent Wales throughout the age grades and captained the U20s in the 2007 Six Nations Tournament.

The 28-year-old began his time with the Region in 2005 and has made an outstanding contribution with over 160 appearances for the Dragons. Before his time with the Men of Gwent, Smith made a number of appearances for premiership side Newport RFC.

I am utterly disappointed and devastated that I have been forced to retire through injury but I feel that the medical advice given to me cannot be ignored.

It’s been a great honour to play for my home Region. I have supported both Newport RFC and the Dragons since I was young so playing at Rodney Parade was a massive privilege for me.

I will miss running out in front of our fantastic fans and look forward to standing alongside them cheering on the boys in the future. To leave now when the potential within the group is about ready to come to fruition is hard to take. I have enjoyed my role as a senior member of the squad helping guide the next generation of players into what is certain to be an exciting time for them with both club and country.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank my wife, family and close friends who have supported me throughout my rugby career and most recently over the past few weeks, which has been a stressful time for me.

I would also like to thank the medical team at Newport Gwent Dragons - they too have been a fantastic support.

Looking forward I am not sure what the future holds for me or even what I want to do, but I am planning on taking some time to reflect on my opportunities, wherever that may be.

To be lucky enough to have played our sport for a living is something I cannot describe, the memories I have gained along the way will last a lifetime as well as the values the game instills.

I wish the squad and everyone at the region all the very best for the future.

– Ashley Smith

We are all so upset at the news of Ashley’s forced retirement.

Over his ten years at Rodney Parade, he has been a credit to the Region, himself and his family. We will miss his maturity, football, decision making and his experience. It’s a big blow for us, but Ashley has made the right decision for himself and his family.

We wish him well for the future.

– Lyn Jones, Director of Rugby

Coleman on fence in Ramsey debate

Credit: Tsafrir Abayov/PA Wire

Wales manager Chris Coleman says he can see the debate from both sides when it comes to Aaron Ramsey filling a wide role or central midfield position for FA Cup finalists Arsenal.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger has played Wales star Ramsey in wider positions this year, with the player himself publicly declaring he prefers to occupy the middle ground.

And while Coleman claims he would not consider Ramsey as a winger in Wales colours unless circumstances dictated otherwise, he also understands Wenger's position.

In my opinion, he does all his best work for Wales in the centre.

Offensively, he starts in the centre, but he is a player who goes everywhere. He can end up wide. But it is different when you haven't got the ball. As a wide player, the job is different.

Yes, I can understand his (Ramsey's) frustrations, but I can also understand why Wenger may play him out there.

If you look at his physical statistics, he does the most high-intensity running because his engine is incredible.

So he can do the miles, he can get forward and back, so I can see why Wenger has maybe done that.

I can see it from both sides. But for us, I wouldn't (play him wide) unless I really absolutely had to."

– Chris Coleman, Wales Manager

Health professionals join calls for tighter tattoo regulation

The head of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, Wales has joined calls for tighter regulation of tattoo and skin piercing practitioners and businesses.

Credit: PA

It follows a public health alert over a parlour in Newport. So far 651 former clients of the business that traded variously as Blue Voodoo, Sun Tattoo Studio and Flesh Wound have undergone precautionary blood tests.

It is a matter of huge concern to us that anyone can set themselves up as a skin piercer and can carry out invasive and potentially very dangerous
procedures without the benefit of training and without any checks into their background.

We recognise that local authorities’ hands are tied as it is very difficult to refuse registration and the legislation they are forced to work with is not appropriate.

We would like to see a requirement for practitioners to be registered with their local authority and to be subject to background checks and to be able to demonstrate that they understand the need for safe and hygienic practice.

– Julie Barratt, Director of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, Wales


£6m to help older people live independently

Credit: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

The Welsh Government has announced a £6 million investment to help older people in Wales live independently in their own home.

It says the funding supports the work of the Care and Repair service. It provides adaptations like ramps, handrails, and safety alarms, to enable older people to live safely in their own homes.

£2 million of the funding is for the Rapid Response Adaptations Programme, which provides minor adaptations to help prevent many people from having to be admitted to hospital.

The Welsh Government says estimates show every pound invested in the programme creates a £7.50 saving for health and social services.

Care and Repair and the Rapid Response Adaptations Programme help transform the lives of more than 40,000 older people across Wales every year.

By providing relatively small home adaptations, these services enable people to continue to live safely in the homes they love with the dignity they deserve.

As people across Wales live longer, healthier lives, such preventative measures play an increasingly important role in supporting our health and social services.

– Lesley Griffiths AM, Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty

Queen's Speech leaves 'real worry' over welfare says Shadow Welsh Secretary

Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith has criticised the Queen's Speech for failing to spell out how the UK Government will make £12bn of cuts to spending on benefits. He also said it was 'a shame' that the government hadn't set out full details of further transfers of power to the Assembly in a Wales Bill which is due to be published in the autumn.

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