It was the Football Association of Wales’ consideration of 80 changes put to it to improve its operations and image that gave me a chance to examine ageism at work.
In November 2013 BBC Wales TV in reporting the plan named only one of the 80 that was to impose a ban on anyone over 65 from election to the FAW’s 33 member ruling council, a focus used across the media (all mentioning a sitting member being 92!).
A frequent criticism of the council members is that these ‘men in suits’ motivation lay in the free tickets and banqueting involved rather rather than the football itself. It is no big effort to add ‘old’ to ‘men in suits’ and thus ageism.
In examining the FAW’s intention a newspaper report did just that telling of an ‘ageing’ council member eulogising about an after match dinner rather than the match.
On hearing the FAW’s plan I sprang into action and e-mailed the FAW, AMs, MPs, Welsh and Westminster Parliaments and Equality bodies, thus:
“This must be seen as blatant discrimination used against a section of the populace because their age. You are not allowed to say no women or no black people so you can’t say no-one over 65.
“There is no evidence to prove that a person under 65 is more able than one 65 over and thus placing in jeopardy the proper running of the FA of Wales. If the Wales FA thinks there is the logic in this rule why not extend it to cover all of the people organising in the clubs affiliated to its Association? If it did the whole organisation would collapse!
“I trust that you will seek to put right this injustice against older people in Welsh society. Roy Jones, aged 83. What followed was far from “simps” no one matching my spring – most didn’t get off the ground.
“Where there were answers I was told ‘nowt to do with us gov’ and was referred to others. There seemed to be even at the highest level a lack of knowledge of or interest in the subject and given that ageism afflicts society in general and is against the law is strange.
“The case against the FAW pertains to Clubs and Associations under the Equality Act 2010 which depicts age discrimination as “unfairly treating people differently because of their age” and is banned, except in cases where it is helpful to those 60 and over e.g. bus passes.
“It applied to disability, race, religion, sex and sexual orientation among others. Age was only added in 2012 (an after thought) and so not tested as have the others. The (Welsh) Equality Advisory Service (EAS) have 80 templates of letters of complaint covering the 9 categories, just one of which is on age.
“An EAS offer to write new template to suit my case was withdrawn because the FAW has not finished the process needed to implement the rule which though looking innocuous would undermine the meaning of equality and fine words .. and must be challenged.”
by Roy Jones, Journalist, of the national Union of Journalists and National Pensioners’ Convention