Wales to consider changing name of national teams to Cymru after World Cup

Wales will consider changing its name to Cymru on the international stage after the World Cup.

Cymru – the Welsh name for Wales – is already used by the Football Association of Wales in its internal and external communications and by staff at the governing body’s headquarters in the Vale of Glamorgan.

The FAW plans to speak to various stakeholders in Welsh football about the merit of changing the country’s name in international competition, while the PA news agency can reveal informal discussions have already been held with UEFA on the subject.

Wales v Belgium – UEFA Nations League – Group 4 – Cardiff City Stadium
Football Association of Wales chief executive Noel Mooney says the “direction of travel” is to call the country’s national teams ‘Cymru’ (David Davies/PA)

“The team should always be called Cymru, that’s what we call it here,” said FAW chief executive Noel Mooney ahead of Wales’ first World Cup since 1958.

“Our view at the moment is that domestically we’re clearly called Cymru. That’s what we call our national teams.

“If you look at our website, how we talk about ourselves, we are very much Cymru.

“Internationally we feel we have a bit more work to do yet. So we are going to this World Cup as Wales.

Wales v Belgium – UEFA Nations League – Group 4 – Cardiff City Stadium
A poster of Wales captain Gareth Bale on the side of the Cardiff City Stadium ahead of their Nations League game against Belgium in June (David Davies/PA)

“But I think 2023 will be a year when we have a good discussion with all the different stakeholders – whether that Governments, our own boards, councils and decision-making bodies, staff, club and players.

“We’re a very open democratic organisation and we don’t just unilaterally decide today to do something like that.

“I would say it’s the direction of travel, but there’s no firm decisions on it. It’s more almost by osmosis that we’re heading towards it.”

The issue of a possible name change for Wales was brought into sharp focus earlier this month when Robert Page’s side were drawn in the same Euro 2024 qualifying group as Turkey.

Wales v Ukraine – FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifier – Play Off – Final – Cardiff City Stadium
Robert Page will lead Wales next month at their first World Cup for 64 years (David Davies/PA)

The Turks now compete on the international stage as Turkiye after the Ankara government asked for the country to be known globally by its Turkish name and not the anglicised version.

Mooney said: “You’ve seen countries like Azerbaijan, Turkey and others use their own language.

“They’re quite strong on it and we spoke to the Turkish at the Euro 2024 draw about it.

“We’ve also had unofficial discussions with UEFA over coffees at different events. Asking how Turkey did this, how other countries did that.

“We’ve asked what their direction of travel is, for example is there a movement towards people using their indigenous language?

“What I do know is there’s a renaissance of the Welsh language and a sense of great pride in what we do with the culture and the heritage.”

Changing its name to Cymru would end Wales’ status as being the last alphabetically of UEFA’s 55 national association members at different draws and meetings.

“We sit by the Ukrainians all the time and that’s nice because we’ve become good friends with them,” said Mooney, an Irishman who is learning Welsh and has set himself the target of holding a Q&A session at the National Eisteddfod next summer.

“But we would like to sit by the Croatians and the Czechs a bit more.”