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Electric car to Qatar: Welsh fans look to spark climate action

A group of Wales supporters are making their way to the World Cup in sustainable fashion thanks to support from former players and the national association.

The Welsh electric car to Qatar team at UEFA headquarters
The Welsh electric car to Qatar team at UEFA headquarters UEFA

How far would you go to see your team in action?

For a group of Wales fans, the chance of seeing their nation at the World Cup for the first time since 1958 was too good to miss, but they are putting climate change before comfort and completing the 8,000km journey in an electric car.

With support from ex-internationals and the Football Association of Wales (FAW), the four fans, which includes former Cardiff City defender Scott Young, are undertaking a three-week journey to Qatar that will see them pass through 19 countries on the way to the World Cup.

The group stopped by at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland on Monday where they met with president Aleksander Čeferin and director of football social responsibility, Michele Uva, as well as taking the opportunity to have their photo taken alongside some of Europe's most coveted trophies.

Joining the four fans on the European leg of the journey are retired Wales internationals Danny Gabbidon and Joe Ledley, who are delighted to lend their support and learn more about the benefits of going electric.

UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin greeted the group in Nyon
UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin greeted the group in Nyon

Illuminating journey

To be part of the journey is fantastic," said Ledley, who won 77 Wales caps, said. "What these guys are doing is amazing and the coverage back home has been very good. With climate change, this is an important message and I hope they get the credit they deserve.

"It's a long journey to Qatar, we have heard about some of the challenges and there will be complications along the way, but hopefully with us coming on board, it gives them a lift and some motivation."

Gabbidon, who represented his nation 49 times, has already been learning about some of the benefits of going electric.

"It's good to get a bit more of an education about electric cars and sustainability and it's been good fun so far," he said. "It's about awareness and understanding. There are things we can do better in our lives and there is still a lack of awareness for a lot of people. An electric car is one of many different things we can do in society, so for us it's about using football's platform to spread that message.

Michele Uva, UEFA director of football social responsibility:

"We are very happy to welcome Danny, Joe and the team to UEFA HQ on their way to Qatar. They are committed to showing their support for Wales in a positive and sustainable manner and we must commend them for their efforts.

"When it comes to building a more sustainable future, every small gesture counts. That is why we have created UEFA's Football Sustainability strategy, which will help our national associations, clubs and the entire football community to play their part."

Going green for the red dragon

Young and fellow fans Nick Smith, Huw Talfryn Walters and Walter Pennell are undertaking the 8,000-kilometre drive to highlight the possibilities of modern electric vehicles. From their start in Cardiff, they are heading south through Europe to Italy, before a ferry transports them and their car, nicknamed Morris, onto Israel. They will then travel through Jordan and Saudi Arabia, aiming to arrive in Qatar on 18 November, three days before Wales kick off their World Cup campaign against the Unites States of America.

"The FAW has been heavily involved in organising this visit to UEFA headquarters," Young explained. "They have been fully supportive of the journey, and we will be meeting up with Welsh fans en route to Qatar as a result. We are all keen to support our country and go to the World Cup, and football is a massive part of communities throughout the world, so if we can help this message reach fans, we can make a big difference."

Former Wales internationals Joe Ledley (l) and Danny Gabbidon at UEFA HQ
Former Wales internationals Joe Ledley (l) and Danny Gabbidon at UEFA HQ

For Smith, it is a huge opportunity to show the power of electric vehicles. "Electric cars have moved on and it's now possible to take a long trip like this," he said. "A climate crisis has been announced in Wales and an electric car is one way of reducing emission and removing a reliance on fossil fuels – it's one tool among many. A lot of people think electric cars are inconvenient, but if we can prove that we can drive from Cardiff to Qatar, it shows that people can use them in their everyday lives."

Noel Mooney, FAW chief executive:

"This trip represents all that is good about Wales and highlights the importance of living as sustainably as possible. We will check in with the guys every day to ensure they are on the right road to Doha and that they have found a socket. We can't wait to meet them on the other side before we face the USA in our opener on 21 November."