See also the other World Cup 2022 demographics analyses:
Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Ecuador, England, France, Germany, Morocco, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Serbia, Switzerland, Uruguay, USA, Wales.
This is a study of the demographics and personal-origins of the players on Wales national team at World Cup 2022. Following the findings is a related discussion on the status of Welsh nationalism.
The aggregate racial-national ancestry for the WALES National Team’s World Cup 2022 squad (full 26-man roster) is:
- 91% White [23.625 / 26],
- 7% Black [1.75 / 26],
— via Ben Cabango, Ethan Ampadu, Sorba Thomas, and Brennan Johnson.
- 2% East-Asian [0.625 / 26]
— via Rubin Colwill and Kieffer Moore.
— Of the total 26-man roster: Twenty are full-White-European (77% of team) with a large-majority of this British Isles origin.
— Of the twenty full-White players, around fifteen have definite and strong ties to Wales (58% of team).
— Of the fifteen full-White players with strong Wales ties, around five are said to be strong or even ‘fluent’ Welsh speakers (20%).
— On the other end, five of the White players have quite weak personal ties to Wales and are on the team only via a parent or grandparent.
FIFA World Ranking of Wales as of the start-date of World Cup 2022:
19th / 211 world national-teams
Final ranking achieved by Wales at the 2022 World Cup tournament:
30th / 32 national-teams in World Cup
GOALKEEPERS: 3 / 3 White
— Wayne Hennessey: White. Strong ties to Wales. The starting goalkeeper throughout the tournament.
— Danny Ward: White, born and raised in Wales.
— Adam Davies: White. Said to be born in Germany to British parents with ties to Wales.
DEFENDERS: 9 players. 0.75 Black (8%), 8.25 White (most of that with firm Wales ties)
— Ben Davies: White. Said to be a fluent Welsh speaker and addressed a World Cup press conference that aired on the BBC in Welsh. Has spent significant time in Denmark.
— Joe Rodon: White. Came up with Swansea City football club of Wales. Several sports players in family, including professional footballer grandfather active in the 1960s.
— Ben Cabango: half-Black, half-White. Father is from Angola, mother White with ties to Wales. Father Paulo Cabango showed up in the UK in 1997 soon after the new government of Tony Blair people lifted immigration-limits. Three years later, year 2000, a White woman gave birth to the Angloan immigrant’s baby. (See photo of the parents of Ben Cabango.) As a boy, Ben Cabango came up through the Welsh football-club Swansea’s youth program.
— Chris Mepham: White. Really a product of Greater London by birth and upbringing, ties to Wales unclear.
— Chris Gunter: White. Ties to Wales strong; came up with Cardiff City football club.
— Connor Roberts: White. Ties to Wales strong; came up with Swansea City football club.
— Neco Williams: White. Although born in Wales, spent most of his life with the Liverpool football club (involved from age 8 to 21). (See photo of Neco Williams with parents when he signed a Liverpool pro contract when he turned 18.)
— Ethan Ampadu: one-quarter-Subsaharan, three-quarters White British Isles ancestry. His father was half-Black football player Kwame Ampadu (b.1970), the son of a Ghanaian and a White Irish woman. (See photo of parents of Ethan Ampadu in Ethan’s youth.) Ethan Ampadu spent all his life in England but his mother’s family-tie to Wales let him on the “national team.”
— Tom Lockyer: White. Firm personal ties to Wales; came up with the Cardiff City youth-development system.
MIDFIELDERS: 9 players. ca. 8.0 White, 0.5 Black, ca. 0.5 East Asian?
— Aaron Ramsey: White. Strong Wales ties, including coming up with the Cardiff City youth system.
— Joe Allen: White. Strong Wales ties and speaks Welsh language. Has spent a total of about 12 years of his life with the Swansea City organization in Wales, including youth-development, early-career (to early 20s), and as of 2022 again (at age 32).
— Harry Wilson: White. Personal ties to Wales are strong, but spent most of sport career from mid-childhood in Liverpool.
— Joe Morrell: White. Is actually basically English by birth and upbringing and life and pro-career, but has a Welsh mother.
— Matthew Smith: White. Tied to England through own life and parents’ lives, but grandfather is Welsh.
— Dylan Levitt: White. Strong ties to Wales, but at some point in teenage years became part of the Manchester United system in England.
— Sorba Thomas: “Born in England, Thomas was born to a Sierra Leonean father and Welsh mother.” (See photo of Sorba Thomas looking rather like an Arab.) Half-Black, half-White.
— Rubin Colwill: Apparently has partial non-European ancestry. Though it looks like the non-European comes from eastern Asia, someone on Twitter suggests the non-European ancestry is from South Asia with an ancestral language of Urdu. (See pics of Rubin Colwill showing him looking distinctly “Hapa” [White-European + East-Asian].)
— Jonny Williams: White. He is another of the players born and raised in England but who has a Welsh parent.
FORWARDS: 5 players. 4.375 White-European, 0.125 Chinese, 0.5 Black
— Gareth Bale: White. Strong ties to Wales by birth and upbringing. His many years of success have made him in our time a symbol of the Welsh nation. Wales is, however, too small a pond for him and he has never played professionally for a Welsh club.
— Daniel James: White. Of English birth but modestly strong ties to Wales via family (father) and early career with Swansea (to age 22).
— Mark Harris: White. Strong ties to Wales including birth, upbringing, and entire pro career (to age 24).
— Kieffer Moore: around seven-eighths White, with one-eighth Chinese ancestry. Partial Italian ancestry. Kieffer Moore has only tenuous ties to Wales, reported to be via one grandfather. He himself has been of England almost his whole life.
Besides the Welsh grandparent, another grandparent of Kieffer Moore’s was a “Hapa” (half -Chinese, half White), who left East Asia with parents in the “1940s.” At least one other grandparent is reportedly Italian (note, full name: Kieffer Roberto Francisco Moore). For a time, China actively tried to recruit Kieffer Moore for its “national team,” but the great-grandparent level does not qualify for eligibility. China was in talks to potentially put him on a path to PRC-citizenship, with sacks-full of unmarked cash reportedly to accompany the citizenship papers. This was when he was age 26, 27 (late 2010s), but it fell through and he stuck with Wales. One is tempted to see, in Kieffer Moore’s face, evidence of the one-eighth Chinese ancestry.
— Brennan Johnson: Half-Black, half-White. Father a Jamaican immigrant in England who became a pro player. (See pic of Brennan Johnson’s parents.) Weak ties to Wales. He has spent his whole career so far with the same club in England that his Black-Jamaican father played for, which means his real identity is more tied to pro sports than to a nation, especially the nation of Wales in which he has never lived.
— Rob Page: White, strong ties to Wales, formerly with various Wales national teams over 14 years in the 1990s and 2000s.
The ethno-national and ethno-cultural situation in Wale, national team as symbol of Welsh nationalism
That Wales qualified at all for the World Cup in its competitive European regional qualifying league is a major triumph for the small nation of 3 million. The run-up to World Cup qualification was a rallying-point for Wales nationalism or at least regionalist-identity patriotism.
On the political scene, Wales nationalism was previously well represented by the Plaid Cymru political party, which has controlled 10-15% of the vote in Wales between 1970 and 2022 in UK House of Commons elections and double that in local elections. By the 1990s and especially 2000s, they had enough influence to firm-up language policy, and have succeeded in shoring up the threatened Welsh language. With the Scottish independence referendum of 2014 and then the Brexit controversy in the late 2010s, new breaths of life came into Wales nationalism, even if no one ever seriously considered a totally-impractical split from England.
The amazing Wales international-football ‘run’ in 2021 and 2022, qualifying for the World Cup over serious competition in Europe (and knocking out Ukraine in the final qualifying match) can only be said to be another rallying point for Welsh patriots and Wales nationalism and ‘nation-building,’ identity construction.
Much of the above was on display to the viewer of Wales’ opening-match against the highly-racially-mixed and largely-‘denationalized’ USA team. There was a palpable difference in atmosphere and attitude in the stadium. Thousands of Wales fans filled the stadium and really dominated the match with the cheers and songs. They belted out their national anthem in an eerily loud tone, filling the night sky in Qatar. The players, most of whom are tied closely to Wales, all sang loudly. The USA team was subdued and for many of the members the Star-Spangled Banner national anthem means little, if anything (having never even lived in the USA). With Wales, it was twenty thousand hearts beating as one.
The Wales team’s comparative strong-homogeneity and its fans expressing their nationalism was notable when contrasted with the USA’s non-homogeneity, and in a battle of ‘nationalisms’ and national-pride, Wales frankly won hands-down. The match ended in a 1-1 draw, seen as a big disappointment for the USA, being (for one thing) that the USA had a resident population over 100x as large was Wales.
National Team 2022 demographics versus Wales resident-population demographics
The Wales population today is:
— White: 2,915,000, of which:
- up to 1,750,000 consider themselves Welsh [55-60% of total population], with about half being intermediate speakers of Welsh or higher — a number substantially firmed up by language-revival efforts of past twenty-five years; and
- ca. 1,100,000 are non-Welsh White-British [35-40% of total population] — this mostly being English people living in Wales and not identifying as ethnic-cultural “Welsh” at all.
- 65,000 Other White, not of British Isles origin [2%]
— Non-White: 185,000 non-European foreign-origin, including mixed [now near 6%] [in 2001: 2%].
- 30,000 South Asian Muslim
- 20,000 South Asian Hindu or other non-Muslim
- up to 20,000 East Asian, primarily Chinese [0.5%+]
- 40,000 Black or part-Black [1.3%]
- 40,000 Other non-European or unclear
Wales today is, by Western standards, (still) almost describable as a near-ethnostate, especially outside the primary population centers where the non-Europeans are concentrated. Census reports suggest that the capital, Cardiff, may have above 60,000 non-whites of foreign origin, which is ca. 33% of all non-Europeans population in Wales. Cardiff’s 275,000 White-British are only 9% of the White-British total population in Wales.
In most of Wales, which has a land area comparable to (the U.S. state of) New Hampshire, the population is today 97-100% White and in substantial parts the White population has a dominant “Welsh” ethnocultural identity, partly the result at revival efforts over the past decades. Part of the fruits of this movement, Welsh nationalism, was on full display in the World Cup match against the overtly multi-racial, multi-national, de-nationalized USA team.
In summary, the chosen Wales-2022 World Cup team basically did reflect the Wales population, except with a 10x overrepresentation by Blacks. Persons with Subsaharan ancestry are only 1.3% of the Wales-resident population whereas they some 15% of the team [4 of 26 players] has partial Black ancestry.