Sweeping the Nation

Gareth Bale celebrates with team mates as Wales qualify for Euro 2016

Image: ITV Credit: PA Images

After a staggering success in the Euros, Welsh football saw a surge in their world rankings. Not only creating wide spread national pride in a sport not usually associated with Wales, but also creating worldwide hype about a country previously overlooked. After the Euros was over I managed to go on a short trip, whilst I was away people who asked where I was from actually knew where it was….all but one knew because of Wales’ presence in the Euros. I was staggered at how one tournament could influence so many people’s knowledge and perception of a country.

Wales’ digital visibility rose tremendously throughout the tournament, and continued to do so after. Through their unpredicted performance, the team representing Wales football managed to create an unprecedented impact on so many people, football fans or not.  From travelling fans, to those watching at home, many Welsh and British football supporters were promoting Welsh football through the digital sphere. Allowing the underdogs to grow in popularity.

The Euros had a huge impact on Wales culturally and creatively. As it is widely known Wales is predominantly known for its rugby, and is an aspect which plays a tremendous part in the countries culture. Originating from the valleys and the mining industry, the roots grow deep for rugby in Wales. To now be seen as a country which has talent in both sports created many discussions about the culture of Wales. There appeared to be numerous debates on whether football was now the national game of Wales, overtaking rugby! I argue not, but believe we should celebrate the success of both sports and be proud to have such talent! This also goes to show  how success in sport can help boost the digital presence of a nation.

Throughout the tournament there was an abundance of hash tags and social media campaigns to promote individual teams. However the importance of getting these slogans right proved to be paramount. A variety of firms were drafted in from the creative industry to generate these ideas. The English football team chose to have “One team, One dream” as their slogan, which unfortunately received little appreciation. On the other hand, Wales adopted the phrase “Together Stronger” which promoted a sense of inclusion and embracement. This phrase then became a prominent hash tag throughout the Euros, enabling a digital focus and increasing links to the team. Wales as a nation seemed more sociable and had a strengthening community as a result of online sites such as Facebook and Twitter. It appeared that everyone was behind the Welsh team and this arose because of the use of social media and the digital sphere.

Although this demonstrates a sense of unity within Wales, there were still many football fans who were in the dark when it came to the social media. Many places in Wales find that access to broadband  is a rare treat! It has been found that Everest has better broadband than some rural Welsh Villages! So although the presence of Wales online was surging, many people in the country couldn’t necessarily be a part of this. You could argue that people within Wales are already a great part of the community, but being excluded from the hype which was occurring digitally about Wales would have been a shame to miss out on. With farming still being a strong part of the culture in Wales, much of the population live in rural areas. It has been said numerous times that Wales is evolving into a digital nation, but this can only be said for a small proportion of the country.