Wales at Qatar World Cup: The power of a nation within a nation


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The late British historian Eric Hobsbawm once pointed the finger at the importance of major football events such as the World Cup.. In his 1992 book, Nations and Nationalism, he wrote, “What makes football a particularly effective tool for evoking national feeling…is that an imagined community of millions seems more real than a team of 11 named people.”

There’s a powerful truth there: More than any other sport, soccer is a global game, a fulcrum of all sorts of political symbols and myths of belonging. The players that make up a country’s team are drawn from different sections of society, often coming from the poor and hard-to-find to achieve worldly fame and fortune. For the countless millions who cheer them on, they bear a heavy burden. These “named 11 people” worry about the nation’s ambition and failure.

Before kick-off, there are few scenes that express national identity more than the emotional sight of a country’s national team’s stars lining the field and fans in the stands belting out the national anthem. This phenomenon is often repeated at the World Cup; What in other contexts might seem like shame and contempt becomes a powerful ritual here. Consider how energetic the Italians were on their way to victory in 2006. Or the irresistible excitement of Chileans in 2014. Or consider the moment in 2010 when North Korea’s top striker broke down in tears as a patriot of the isolated pariah state. chanted.

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This year, all eyes and ears will be on an unlikely team: Wales. Like the rest of the ‘home countries’ that make up the UK, the country competes independently in a number of sports. Wales have not participated in the World Cup since 1958. Generations of Welsh teams, including several legendary talents, have tried and failed to compete in the competition. But through sheer force of will and skill, Wales have finally made it this year and kick off against the USA on Monday.

World Cup schedule, groups and brackets

For a country of 3 million people, to be on the biggest sporting stage in the world This means a lot to the people of Wales, who have waited 64 years,” said Mark Drakeford, First Minister of Wales.

Their arrival in Qatar made their opponents even more attractive – after the Americans, Wales played Iran, then neighbors England. They’ll be pretty underdogs in the final game, but the storyline is already full of tension and drama. Welsh actor Michael Sheen recently delivered a touching monologue Derision of England’s long history of cheapening and bullying Wales went viral as he announced that “a red storm is at Qatar’s doorstep”.

Sheen’s bravery led to a resurgence a political lecture He spoke after Britain’s Brexit vote half a decade ago, deindustrializing the country, rural decline, the decline of coal and iron ore, the legacy of the bitter 1980s mining strikes and “bright-eyed promises”. d was sorry. As Budget Day wore on, the British vote sounded increasingly empty.”

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The story of Wales winning the World Cup is inextricably linked to its own journey as a stateless nation. “Wales’ rise to a European soccer power over the past decade or so has coincided with the country’s recovery from decades, if not centuries, of political and cultural oppression, much of it self-inflicted,” according to The Washington Post. Written by Dave Schein. “The directions of the two trends are almost reversible: the team’s success reflects the rise of Welsh nationalism, so the citizens’ desire to outwardly assert their unique Welsh identity is overshadowed by the sporting fate of dozens of footballers.”

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Support for Welsh independence has grown significantly in recent years, but minority concerns remain, polls show.. Devolution in the late 1990s gave Wales greater autonomy and self-government through its own elected legislature. But Welsh nationalism was not just about political rights, but cultural identity, and generations of activists and campaigners fought to preserve and expand the use of the Welsh language.

Sheinin points to the efforts of folk singer Dafydd Ivan, who became one of the most famous figures in the fight. Ivan was brought in to sing ‘Yma o Hyd’ before an important qualifying match against Austria, which in Welsh means ‘In spite of everything, here we are!’ is translated as A ‘red wall’ of Welsh fans sang along with him and joined him again as Wales beat Ukraine to book their place in Qatar.

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“When they came together,” Ivan told The Washington Post, “it was like a superpower. There was so much passion in singing that I couldn’t help but cry. … I’ve been singing this song for 40 years, and it’s almost like I’m rehearsing for this moment.” is.”

Iwan, who was arrested many times in the 1970s as a Welsh language rights campaigner and led the Welsh independence party Plaid Cymru from 2003 to 2010, wrote the song in 1983 when Wales was in dire straits. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s neoliberalism. Ivan sent a message of courage and endurance, with even the Tories at Westminster praising Wales’ survival in the midst of the Roman Empire’s predators. The song was sung by tens of thousands of people in Cardiff, a milestone of sorts, marking a new era of Welsh identity and politics.

Delith Jewell, also known as the Senedd, MP for Wales, told Sheinn: “I can see how it would seem from the outside to find such a deep meaning in the national football team.” “But what’s really revolutionary is the success of the football team and the adoption of this song, which shows that the Welsh nation has matured a lot in terms of being comfortable with themselves and accepting their language.”


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