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Chile V Scotland Football Match

Volume 931: debated on Wednesday 4 May 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has received about the official facilities proposed for the Chile versus Scotland football international at Santiago; and if he will make a statement.

No official facilities from the Government are proposed for this match, with which they are not in any way concerned.

As the Scottish Football Association is using the threat of disciplinary action to force footballers to play in a stadium which has formerly been used as a concentration camp and which is stained with the blood of countless innocent victims, will my hon. Friend demand that this match be stopped? If the SFA refuse to stop it, will he tell Willie Allan, the reactionary autocrat who runs the SFA, that there will be absolutely no Government hospitality or official facilities at all during the whole of the SFA tour of South America?

As I told my hon. Friend, no official facilities from the Government are proposed for this match. When the Scottish Football Association wrote to me asking for a political assessment, I gave it, as my hon. Friend will know, in very clear terms.

Is the Minister aware that there is deep offence in Scotland at the crass insensibility of the Scottish Football Association in approving this fixture, since it will be taken as tacit approval of a vicious and despotic regime? Will he make his objections more strongly to the SFA?

If the right hon. Gentleman reads the letter that I wrote to the Scottish Football Association giving the political assessment, he can come to no other conclusion about where the Government stand on the issue.

On what grounds of foreign policy or respect for human rights is it bad to play football with Chileans but good to play football with Russians?

I was asked by the Scottish Football Association to give an assessment of the position in Chile, and that is what I gave. It is a perfectly accurate description.

Does the Minister agree that if only countries with democratic Governments were allowed to take part in international football competitions such as the World Cup, Scotland might have more prospect of reaching the finals than she seems to have had in recent years?

The Welsh managed to beat Czechoslovakia very convincingly recently, but I do not know what conclusions one should draw from that. I cannot forecast the success of the Scottish football team in any circumstances.

Does the Minister appreciate that, whatever his hon. Friend the Member for West Stirlingshire (Mr. Canavan) may say, those on the terraces who watch football and vote Socialist do not share the humbug that he utters?

The hon. and learned Gentleman ought to realise what deep feeling there is about this visit to Chile, particularly because the game is to be played at the stadium that was the scene of considerable hardship and torture to citizens.