World Cup 2022 – Wales, the selection that is unlike any other

There are already countries for which this World Cup will remain unforgettable, despite everything we would like to be able to forget about it: Saudi Arabia, Japan and, despite a painful loss in stoppage time against Iran on Friday last: Wales.

For the Welsh, it was even before Gareth Bale scored the penalty that gave them a 1-1 draw against the United States last Monday. The dragon team have been waiting sixty-four years to take part in what is expected to be the biggest celebration in world football, ever since a side that weren’t given a chance ahead of the tournament reached the quarter-finals. finals, where the Brazil of a teenager named Pelé was waiting for him



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You saw it in the match against the USA: when it comes to communing with their team, the 3,000 supporters who came to cheer on Wales in Qatar fear no one, and it is not the confiscation of their hats decorated with a rainbow ring as they arrived at the stadium which would dampen their fervor, especially since half of them had previously taken part in a party organized by the Gol Cymru association in the Doha Intercontinental, during which they exhausted the hotel’s draft beer resources.

The Welsh, happy, after the equalizer of Bale

Credit: Getty Images But the end of a sixty-four-year long slumber does not fully explain how and why Wales are a special case in this World Cup and, indeed, possibly in world selection football. whole. Raised by the late Gary Speed, led by Chris Coleman in the semi-finals of Euro 2016,Y Dreigiau are not« more than a national team

« . They are something else. They are other.

cymru In the UK there are a few who have made fun – kindly, most often, but not always – of the desire expressed by the selection that when referring to them English is not usedwales but from Welsh cymru

(pronounced: com-ri). We were surprised that coach Rob Page announced his squad list for Qatar at the Welfare Hall in Tylertstown, the last of the Welsh minors’ community homes, and that defender Ben Davies held a press conference in the language of his native country. We should rather have wondered why; and if we had, we would have understood that the enthusiasm which animates the Welsh, players as fans, has roots which go much deeper than just football. It was enough for that to translate the words of what is now the anthem of the selection, Yma o Hyd (« We’re Still Here »), written and recorded by the folk singer

Dafydd Iwan
in 1983. Iwan, who is 79, is in Qatar at the moment, and surprised the 1,600 fans gathered at the Intercontinental by grabbing the microphone and singing his most famous tune.
We are always here,
We are always here,
Despite everything and despite everything,
Despite everything and despite everything,
[…] Despite everything and despite everything,
We are always here.
And we will cry before all the nations,
« We’ll be here until Judgment Day! »
Despite all the traitors,
Despite old Maggie and her crew,

We’ll be here till the end of time

And the Welsh language will live!

Maggie is Margaret Thatcher, of course.

And for those who haven’t understood the political meaning of this song, the Welsh Federation has accompanied it with a video which incorporates images of the miners’ strike of 1985, demonstrations by associations for the defense of the Welsh language in the 1960s, and the statue of Betty Campbell, the activist who disappeared five years ago, a school headmistress from Tiger Bay, one of the UK’s oldest multiracial communities. Maybe we should send a translation of these words to FIFA, usually so touchy when we dare to mix politics with football.

Fans at the party Credit: AFP It was the players themselves, and in particular AFC Wimbledon defender Chris Gunter, who were the driving force behind the adoption of Yma o Hyd (**), which Dafydd Iwan sang on the lawn of the Cardiff City Stadium before the 2-1 victory over Austria in the qualifying round for the 2022 World Cup; but it’s good

Cymdeithas Bel-droed Cymru

– the Welsh federation – which took the decision to make it the anthem of the selection, of its own free will.

A club more than a selectionThis federation, chaired by Steve Williams since June 2021, is undoubtedly, of all the non-Scandinavian European federations, the one that maintains the closest relations with the base from which its new leaders come, including three of the four higher up in the hierarchy only became administrators in the mid-2010s. That explains it. cymru , in fact, would rather suggest a club than a selection, and not just any club – a Union Berlin or a Saint-Pauli, not a Manchester City – and its supporters to the Ultras who accompany them. In the same way that all of Berlin and (especially) all of Hamburg do not recognize themselves in Union or Saint-Pauli, it may be that many Welsh people who remained in the country find it difficult to accept the cultural and political message of which their selection has become the vector. In this again,


is unique, uniting its fans around an identity that remains a linguistic minority and a political creed that contradicts nearly half of the Welsh electorate (***).

That said, these ambiguities are likely to fade into the background next Tuesday, regardless of the outcome of the confrontation with a wounded Iran in its pride. Except when it’s England who are opposite, of course, when this kind of question no longer arises. It’s a whole people who will take over Yma o Hyd tonight.

The Welsh came out of their group by drawing three in three games, then beating Hungary 2-1 in the play-off, before losing 0-1 in the quarter, Pelé scoring the first of his twelve goals in the European Cup. World. They were deprived that day of John Charles, one of the greatest players in their history, who had been injured against the Hungarians. « With him in the team, we could have won, » said their manager Jimmy Murphy, Matt Busby’s right-hand man at Manchester United, who may have owed his national team his life. The latter indeed played a play-off match against Israel in Cardiff on February 6, 1958. Murphy was therefore not on the plane which crashed on the snowy runway of Munich airport that evening..

Iwan was also the chairman of the Welsh left-wing nationalist party Plaid Cumry from 2003 to 2010.


According to the latest government studies, 16.2% of Welsh people (over the age of 3) speak Welsh every day, and 33% understand it. And if the opposition parties won the majority of votes in the last legislative elections, in 2019, Labour, the number 1 party, lost 8% of their votes compared to the previous election.


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