The Welsh Internationalist

The future for Welsh sports diplomacy

From Planet 248

by Laura McAllister and Gavin Price

In a series that proposes how Wales can change after lockdown, Laura McAllister and Gavin Price put forward how the nation could take advantage of the once-in-a-generation chance to advance itself economically, politically and culturally on the world stage as the Cymru team head to Qatar.

It’s inevitable that we imagine we are more famous than we actually are – to assume that the world knows all about the wonders of our country. The inconvenient truth is that it’s not true. Overseas publics know very little about Cymru, who we are, what we are, often even where we are. That’s why the essential precursors to developing more fruitful reciprocal and connected international relationships around trade, economics, education and culture are representation, visibility and awareness. And that’s where sport, and particularly football, comes in. The fundamental, quintessential nature of sport means identity, visibility and differentiation are baked in, without it sports like football have little meaning. This is why what happens in the tiny gulf state of Qatar in a few weeks’ time is so generationally crucial for all in Cymru, not just for those wearing the bucket hats. The FAW uses the term ‘Cymru’ instead of ‘Wales’ and is interested in seeking to change its formal, designated nomenclature in UEFA and FIFA.

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About the author

Laura McAllister is Professor of Public Policy and the Governance of Wales at Cardiff University’s Wales Governance Centre. She is a former Wales international footballer and team captain and has worked extensively in sports and especially, football governance. Laura is currently Deputy Chair of UEFA’s Women’s Football Committee. Gavin Price is the UK/Europe Lead at global consulting agency Sports Diplomacy Alliance, an expert on sports diplomacy in small nations and football diplomacy, an Honorary Member of the Centre for Sports Law, Policy and Diplomacy at the University of Rijeka and co-author of the British Council Wales report ‘Towards a Welsh sports diplomacy strategy’.