Friday, May 26, 2006

Football of the future

It was great to watch Wales's football match against the Basque Country on Sunday. Wales were playing against a country which fully deserves to have its own football team and which in comparison to Wales, is in many ways more developed as a nation.

It is a lucky historical fluke that Wales (along with England and Scotland) has it's own football team. It's a great source of joy, and would be even more so if we actually made our way to the final rounds sometimes! Never mind, better a national team that doesn't win world cups than no national team at all. It's with commiseration then that we see that our Basque brothers don't even have the right to try and qualify for the World Cup Finals.

The joys of having a national team are many. Not only are people across the world more likely to know about Wales - which is good for self esteem and the tourist industry - but there's also the great away trips.

But one fact that is rarely mentioned is the importance of a national football team in creating a civic identity. For a stateless nation Wales has a surprisingly advanced civic identity. This is to be welcomed (as long as it's not used to demote the centrality and rights of the Welsh language, as is sometimes done by Labour Brit Nats).

Our civic national identity is down, in no small way, to our national football and rugby sides and is an important unifying expression for all people who live in Wales. This is something that the Spanish Nationalists wish to deny the Basques. And isn't it funny, that those who whish to deny a national football team for the Basques, Catalans or Bretons would never get rid of their own Spanish or French teams.

Maybe had the Basques had their own football team in the 1960s then ETA's violence would have finished earlier and the Basques would have developed a stronger civic nationalism.

We look forward to playing the Basques again - but next time in UEFA's European Cup!
Gora Eskadi - Cymru am Byth.


Rhys Wynne said...

That was my first away trip following Wales and it was brilliant - mainly due to the opponents I'm sure.

Two things that struck me:

Even thought the Spanish team have reached the world cup and 'technically' will represent the Basque counrty there, I didn't see a single spanish flag on cars, posters in shop windows or the Spanish strip in sports shops (I didn't visit any supermarkets). This is in stark contrast to Wales which is awash with billlboards and adverts with Enlgand football team players faces on them, and you can't move in shops without falling over a rack of Official England merchandise - it can only get worse, I'm not going shopping again until after the quarter finals!

Secondly, and this is something that I'd gathered from TV pictures in the past - how wonderful it is to see banners from all parts of Wales, particularly flags from Bagillt (near Holywell) and Newport. We're routeenly told how these parts of Wales are not Welsh but part of a greater England. For some inhabitants in these areas this is probably true, but let's not forget that pride in being Welsh exists in every single corner of Wales.

Rhys Wynne said...

Here's some photo's (well 108 at the moment) by Welsh fans on the trip:

Taffia Don said...

saying that eta violence would have ended earlier if basque had its own football team is erronious, northern ireland has its own football team yet IRA / Unionists have been fighting, over whether the territory should be irish or british.

football has not led to a unified civil society there.

Anonymous said...

The opening round of Six Nations fixtures certainly didn’t disappoint. We had a tense thriller (Ireland 16 – 11 Italy), a shocking upset (England 19 – 26 Wales) - which must have cost the bookies in Wales a few quid, seen as though the Welsh were massive underdogs and not to mention the Taffies like a bit of Rugby Betting UK. Then there were the brave Scots; who went down 27-6 to France. So many parts of Scotland’s game were working well and all three of the French tries came from schoolboy errors by the Scots... I hope their confidence is still in tact because they actually played really well.