"Sing" was the name of Gary Barlow and Andrew Lloyd Webber's song to commemorate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. Shame it wasn't given the subtitle "And Prove You Know the Words." Then it could have been used as the official anthem for football's European Championships and the London Olympics as well.
Because it seems people have a bit of a bee in their bonnets. Even the non-royal ones.
UK athletics head coach Charles van Commenee has said he's making sure all Team GB athletes are practicing the words of the British national anthem ahead of the Olympics, to avoid a repeat of the embarrassment with U.S.-born team captain Tiffany Porter at the World Indoor Championships in March. Porter has been dubbed a "Plastic Brit" – and was challenged to prove her British credentials by reciting the opening lines of "God Save the Queen."
Poland's France-born footballers Damien Perquis and Ludovic Obraniak were asked to sing part of the Polish anthem ahead of Euro 2012, amid talk of a split in the squad – which also features players with German connections recently brought in by coach Franciszek Smuda.
But does being able to sing the national anthem prove your right to represent a country? Does every Poland-born Polish person or British-born member of Team GB know the words of their anthems? You just have to cast your mind back to the cringeworthy performance of popstar Christina Aguilera singing "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the 2011 Super Bowl to see that where you’re born doesn’t necessarily mean that’s always the case.
Designer Giorgio Armani has found the perfect solution to the problem – he’s included the words of the Italian anthem in the team’s Olympic kit. Not just a handy cut-out-and-keep guide in the pocket either. He’s gone as far as printing the words to “Il Canto degli Italiani” on the inside of team jackets and sweatshirts.
Armani’s reasoning? He says he’s done it because "sport is the most patriotic thing that there is and it inspires national pride."
I understand the need for the feeling of national pride. An awareness that when you pull on that strip you're not just running or playing for yourself, but representing a flag and a nation. But isn’t it how you perform when that whistle or gun goes that should matter most – more than whether or not you sing the anthem?
There have been calls for Roy Hodgson to drop England stars Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard et al if they’re not singing along in Poland and Ukraine. But – as we see all too often – these guys are chosen for their footballing ability, not their brains or ability to belt it out. And (unlikely I know) if they help to bring England’s first major trophy since 1966 – never mind singing – they’ll be screaming from the rooftops.
Serbia's Football Association suspended midfielder Adem Ljajic for failing to sing "Boze pravde" ahead of a friendly against Spain. He said it was for personal reasons – and a stance that won’t change in the forseeable future. Coach Sinisa Mihajlovic sent him home, and told him he won’t be changing back into his national strip until his attitude changes. You could say it’s just unlucky for Ljajic he’s not eligible to play for Spain or San Marino. It’s not as if you can be punished for failing to sing along to an anthem without any words.
And as we’ve seen recently, even if the athletes have done their homework it turns out that event organizers don’t always do theirs. South Africa’s women’s hockey team were forced to stand through the awkward embarrassment of the anthem from the apartheid era, "Die Stem," at the London Cup instead of "Nikosi Sikelel' iAfrika." And if Maria Dmitrienko’s name isn’t the most memorable, it’s difficult to forget her face after organizers of a shooting championships in Kuwait celebrated her gold medal with the spoof Kazakhstan anthem from the film "Borat" instead of the real one.
So what about the route that UEFA has gone down with the European Champions League? Scrapping national anthems altogether and having an event theme tune rather than anthems from individual countries? It might be something the Greeks are interested in, rather than learning all 158 – yes, 158 – verses of "Imnos pros tin Eleftherian."
They put the picture of the spanish national team, but the spnaish anthem doesnt even have words. No wonder they arent singing
They don't need to sing it, but of course they should know it :).
In addition to the excellent point raised by Carlos Val on this forum, the Spanish side contains many members of the Catalan people, in addition to Basque and other distinct regional peoples. They do often do not self identify as Spaniards, and considering the nature of a horrendous civil war and subsequent brutal repression, it's not surprising they wouldn't sing, even if their were words. For your education, Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao recently played at the Bernabeu for the Copa del Rey Final, in Madrid. The fans were Basque and Catalan. A quick web search should teach you all you need to know about their opinions on Spanish identity.
International sports players are not selected for the national team simply to demonstrate their personal skills – but to represent their country! That selection was always seen as an honour – an honour to play for their nation. Any player selected to play for their nation – and not for one they weren't born in! – should at least know their national symbols such as their flag, heads of state, national anthem etc. Any sports player who has such little respect for their own country as to not know such things should not be selected to play for the nation.
One example of an athlete who knows her country's anthem and an sports event whose organizers didn't do their homework is the past paralympic rowing championship in Italy. Israeli rower Moran Samuel won the championship and organizers played the wrong anthem at the prize ceremony. Samuel signaled to organizers that it was not HaTikva playing and asked for the microphone. She then gave a beautiful rendition herself.
Its a growing trend among the immigrant players , most of the them dont sing their adopted countries' national anthem. I think its a must that all players representing a country should sing the national anthem when millions are watching you and you set an example
During the winter Olympics at Lake Placid Lichtenstein won its first ever gold medal and the organizers were informed the principality didn't have a national anthem so they played 'Eidelweiss' from the Sound of Music. It was delightful but embarrassing for the Lichtensteiners so they subsequently adopted one – God Save the Prince patterned on the UK anthem. (Same tune shared by the UK and Switzerland until 1981 that then replaced the older tune maybe for the same reason of embarrassment. Odd that three countries shared the same melody for a national anthem which is also, of course, My Country Tis of Thee.)
should be mandatory for all picked for national sports teams, especially as most countries import them anyway. i.e we have polish, chinese, south africans, kiwis, pommies etc representing australia, when they come in their visa a demands and english test, sports people should have to learn the anthem.
Yes everybody must know their anthem.....it is a pride................
Italia's national anthem is nice, they should sing their anthem with pride
This article fails to mention that Adam Ljajic refused to sing the Serbian national anthem because of ethnic reasons. It wasn't because he didn't know the words, it was because he doesn't agree with Serbia's status as a nation.
That said, I think every athlete making a national team should have the pride to sing the anthem. If I was a coach, my entire team would be singing, and so would I!
"Patriotism is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.
– Adlai Stevenson
I laughed at the reference to the British 'national anthem' Considering that Britain is not a nation, but made up of separate nations makes a joke of this anthem story. If you want to hear what a lot of people think of the so called British anthen go to a Scotland v England football international and observe the response from the Scots in the crowd when the royal anthem is being played, then try and honestly refer to this song as a 'British national anthem'
God save the Queen is Englands unofficial national anthem, as well as being the British states unofficial anthem.
It seems the price of representing Britain and Northern Ireland is having to learn the words to a sickly song praising the 'dear leader"
Greeks have 158 verses but only 2 of them (8 lines) are singed in official events... and I do not believe anyone knows all 158 of them.
I really think you should remove the picture of the Spanish team. Even though you don't mention them, you're giving the impression that they don't know the words because their mouths are all shut when the fact is that the Spanish anthem doesn't have any words!!!
I don't think singing or reciting the full national anthem is the best proof of patriotism. Or running the entire field with a national flag is the best way of showing national pride and emotion. If it is there, fine, but if it is not, then we need to remember that players or athletes are great in their profession, may not be as good as remembering songs/anthems.Cheers..!!!
Technically there are words, but nobody knows them/sings them anymore since the anthem is from the Franco Era.
Instead why not invite singers/chorus to stand up along with the players? Selected photo of Spain squad was incorrect, for this. CNN should apologize.
Why the kids in the photo?
Can anyone guarantee that the Queen of England can sing the British anthem ?
YES, players should sing the anthem. And not because they're made to do so, but because they desire to do so. They're also getting cash money to represent a country.
You can tell something – maybe not everything, but something – about the integrity and determination of a player by whether he/she sings along to the national anthem. And if a player carries a grudge so great he/she can't sing along, then he/she should make a stronger statement by not playing for the national squad.
I was wondering why not one of the Spanish team were singing at that match! Couldn't figure it out, especially after the Italian team belting out their anthem! Thanks for clearing that up Carlos!!
If I was the Spanish coach I would be insisting that they all hum the tune loudly or go home!
I don't think it matters if a sports star doesn't know the words to the anthem as long as they respect it. I would much rather prefer that fans respect opposing nations anthems rather than be focussed on whether one athlete or footballer is singing as especially at football matches the booing for the opposing anthem can clearly be heard from the stands
If your national anthem has words, every citizen of school age & above should at least know the first verse by heart. That applies to everyone, including sportsmen & women.
this is what's happening with the philippine football team who has been criticized for its players not knowing/signing the national anthem (majority have been born and raised outside the country) but at least the team addressed it and have made the conscious effort to learn and sing it during games
Who cares if they know the words? They're playing for their country not singing for it. Anthems are just pomp and ceremony anyway, it's deeds not words that count. And for those Brits getting all uppity about athletes not knowing the words – did anyone catch the Jubilee pop concert in London recently? When they played God Save the Queen the crowd all sang along with the first verse but when they played the second all we heard was a sea of mumbles because nobody knows the lyric. Does that make the entire UK population unpatriotic? I think not.
I would humbly say players should learn to sing their national anthem. It has the power to enhance team bonding and connectivity with fans on the field and across the Planet. With pride in their chest, glow on their faces and fire in their bellies some footballers sing their national anthem as tears keep rolling on the cheeks of fans in the remote stands. It is a terrific sight with rich emotions.
It is because many players play for countries which they were not born,this is very common with African countries.I think FIFA should put in place rules which ob-large players to know their national Anthem.Failure for any player not to know their anthem should be punishable.
it just shows ignorance when players do not know their national anthem i have watched the english team and rooney does not even try to sing they want the allocade of playing for England mind you he is not the only one.
Lol@people actually being upset about this. Nationalism and patriotism is the blind belief that your country is better because you were born in it, which is by all logical reasoning, just wrong. Therefore, being able to sing your anthem should NOT be required.
People on here are saying that athletes should be forced to sing their anthem to show their pride. It's not pride if it's forced. Sometimes soaking in the anthem and emotions may do more for a player in pre-game preparations than singing.
Why should anyone know his/her anthem ?
For one, except for the Russian one, they're all very ugly.
Moreover, the words usually are something most people are very ashamed of.
All this "hand on the heart", flag weaving, loud singing .... stuff is sickening, something for small boys. Where we're born is a coïncidence. A country is nothing to be proud of. Usually a country was created by killinig people, in bed or around a bridge table. So why sing a silly song "proudly" ?
As Oscar Wilde said : Patriotism is the virtue of the vicious.
Athletes should know of course their anthem....
Well, I believe 100% of athletes representing the Philippines know our anthem :) Proud of that!
an interesting article and a very interesting issue.
i think it's nice to see patriotism at games, i can remember the chilean strikers salas and zamorano singing passionately at world cup 1998 in france. when it is genuine sentiment it can be moving to see how much a player loves his country.
i certainly don't think it should be an obligation though, as one or two other posters point out, there are countries like spain where the basques and the catalans do not identify at all with 'castillian' spain, for example. aside from that there are countries that have a really dull anthem, like 'god save the queen'. i'd much prefer 'land of hope and glory' or 'jerusalem'.
in summary, i think people must be free to choose whether they sing or not. otherwise we'll end up like north korea where it is compulsory to cry, with the threat of prison, when the head of state dies. our emotions should be genuine, not forced. nice article, thanks.
Conspiciously no player with a "migration background" on the German team is singing our anthem.
Ihate to see this time and again so much, I do not even look at them wfen the anthem is beeing olayed.
Nothing is more divisive than sport. It creates rivalries fueled by irrational hate and/or disdain for the opposition. Patriotism is an engendered manipulation. People should only be proud of their own achievements. Being "proud" to be a citizen of a country is, in effect, meaningless.
For example, in the past, many people were "proud" to be Nazis. Nowadays, some people are "proud" to be North Korean. Ask yourself, "why?" If you are full of national "pride" yourself, your answer to that question also applies to you.
O.K. FIFA – Let's see the next World rankings now!!!! Holland in the top 10????? I don't think so. Why not give them the same treatment you gave Italy and France after the World Cup quick exit???. Holland should be embarrassed as were Italy and France. Enough of the favoritism and living on wishful performances. Put them after all the teams that won at least 1 point in the Euro.
spot on Frans Vanhove. Its all just bu** in the end
The Spanish National Anthem DOES have words and ANY person who plays for their national team should sing it or not play.
It shows national pride – which is NOT a bad thing, more people should be proud of their Country and make efforts to make their Country a better place.
Should 'some' National Anthems be updated, maybe. But until then, SING,
The Spanish National Anthem have not words, sorry.
A Spaniard aged 75
Coming from a country (Philippines) where patriotism and love of country is instilled in every child's mind, it is hard to understand how an athlete sent abroad not only to play for his team but also to represent his country can not sing the national anthem. Either athletes sing their national anthem or playing it before the match be done away with.
like i mentioned in a previous article about spain's loss of mojo, these writers have no idea about football. None. And it appears that they have failed to see the lack of words in the Spanish anthem. Poor gentlemen, just plain old poor writing......
We do mention the lack of words in Spain's anthem – it's in the paragraph that says "You could say it’s just unlucky for Ljajic he’s not eligible to play for Spain or San Marino. It’s not as if you can be punished for failing to sing along to an anthem without any words."
But thanks for joining the debate...
They are in their National's Teams not ecause they can sing or not but because they can represent and perform the best of theirs countries.
their Performer, their ability in the field is the real cause and the only cause to be called in the national team
It is every young sports persons dream to represent their birth country at national level. Achieving this a peson would want to sing their national song when given an opportunity. It's sad to see that most of the players who dont sing are not born in the country they are representing which would tell me they participate not out of pride for their country or people but purely out of selfish gain.
If there are words for the song, they should know them since they represent their respective countries.
I think the first step is to ensure the Anthem singer knows it.
In the United States, children in school are no longer allowed to recite the pledge of allegiance to the flag, becasue of its reference to "one nation under God" -- so if the athletes opt out of learning the national anthem, their lack of interest and national spirit likely started in grade school when they were told NOT to recite a pledge that has been recited for generations in the US ..... SAD
If there is so much pride to defend a country in soccer, why is it that the UK doesn't have one national team but three (Scotland, Wales and England)? If not, should any of these lands not have their own anthem and be proud of it?
I can not even imagine being a citizen of a country and NOT knowing the national anthem. Assuming doesn't make it so, but I would be ashamed to represent my country and not knowing it's history.
I think everybody should know the words of their national anthem! It's quite embarassing when people don't know the words but that's the way it is these days. No values, no morals, it's a jungle out there. :( I'm Czech and even though my country's government and politics suck, I love our anthem, it's beautiful.
In Spain you got the galicians, basques and catalans beside ur spanish speaking population these are cultures with in the country and for reason not to offend anybody i guess the national anthem doesn't have any lyrics.
I'm a former Royal Marine Commando and left the service 22 years ago and I can still sing it all in my sleep.
No wonder England has lost pride in itself and we are a weaker country than ever before.
I truly think it's disgusting that our Olympians do not know all the words to the National Anthem, mind you neither do the members of the FA do they ?
I live in the USA now and about to become a citizen and they test you on your knowledge of the history of the country amongst other things.
They should test any ambassdor of the UK to make sure they know and respect the country they represent.
Have some respect !
I am a Nigerian, but I was born and grew up in Ghana. Though I returned to my country as a little child I still know the words of the Ghanaian anthem, and I'm in my late 30s now. I even learned the former Nigerian anthem (we had a new one in the late 1970s) while still in Ghana. It was that important to my folks. Not knowing the anthem of one's country (whether one was originally born in it or not) is just plain lack of respect or ignorance – or both. As one of the respondents has posted, either make the athletes sing their country's anthems or do away with the ritual altogether.
there is no way that one will say i don't know my country's anthem, that's a lie. if you are born in your country or you grew up in another country it's for sure you have to your country's national anthem, if not that shows that you are not a citizen of your country.for me , am proud of myself because am a true Nigerian.
In January 2008, new lyrics to the Spanish national anthem, La Marcha Real, were revealed. The Spanish national anthem had been lyric-less since the death of dictator General Franco in the 1970s. But when the Spanish Olympic Committee heard fans of the English soccer team Liverpool FC sing the club's anthem 'You'll Never Walk Alone', it was decided that Spain too should have lyrics to its national anthem.
Now, leave the Spaniards alone and go to other countries.
Yes, the Italians sang their lungs out, may be because it is an easier national anthem? OK, here is the exception: Mario Barwuah Balotelli; son, of an immigrant, he was born in Sicily.
Take the Germans; Klose (he did start in one game), Podolski,Gomez, Oezil, Khedira, Boateng; all born in Germany, sons of immigrants; yes, they know the words; today they only sing the 3rd verse as the 1st verse is quite correctly associated with WWII; considering the history of Germany and the fact that the parents of these players didn't care for this anthem (1st verse which refers to German boundaries during the early 1940's), do you really expect them to sing it?
Somebody made reference to the Serbian and "British" anthems; both having political aspects. Not any different in the US, where players on the National Team have dual citizenship, were "imported" (Tom Dooley years ago) because the have US connections? Do you really blame them for not singing the anthem?
Now, immigration issues aside, have you considered that some of these players, may be, can't sing?
Podolski and Klose were both born in Poland. Educate yourself.
My girlfriend recently became a British Citizen. In order to qualify she had to take a Citizens test and sing the national anthem. To represent any country is an honour, so why wouldn't you want to learn the words to the anthem.
It's better if they know the lyrics but that's not such a big deal ; the most important is to respect your country's anthem and the opponent's one, that should be enough.
Strange how this patriotic craze is growing when 2 decades ago, the trend was rather to get rid of national anthems before games...Times have changed and not necessarily for the better...
I think the Spanish really have to adopt a new anthem that will represent the nation in generality rather than having an anthem that has no wording. I would like to humbly recommend to the world governing body FIFA to make it mandatory for players to sing their national anthem before playing any official match.
Suggesting *all* athletes should know their anthems presupposes that a national anthem is a major symbol in every country and culture... which is just not the case. Nationalism means something different in every country, and each country fielding athletes in it's name should be allowed to make it's own regulations, based on it's culture, politics, etc...
As for those athletes representing my own country, the USofA... It's certainly not the government's place to force such an issue: first because our freedom-of-speech (or non-speech) values should forbid it, and second because, unlike most countries, the US teams are not funded or supported in any but diplomatic ways by the federal government.
And yet, It thrills me every Olympics to notice that, though our athletes have no obligation to sing along, they usually do. In fact, they do so far more reliably than athletes from most other countries.
Because, even with our many flaws, the US is a pretty great place to be from.
Absolutely, athletes should be required to know and sing the National Anthem before a competition or at an Medal ceremony. It is an embarrassment when the National Anthem is playing and the athletes just stand there like slugs. If I were a coach, starting with Little League, I would insist that my players either sing the anthem or don't bother comning to the game because you won't be playing in it. You look extremely unpatriotic just standing there without singing.
I am disappointed that our USA Olympians do not AT LEAST mouth our National Anthem. What is up with that. I find it extremely disrespectful and embarassing. Come on... our Athletes have listened to our anthem for years–learn the words and express your respect.
I think that if an athlete from the USA wins a gold medal, they should sing our National Anthem loud and proud as our flag is raised. The lyrics tell what a strong and proud country we are and by singing it they show that they are honored to represent this great country at the Olympics.
In Mexico we learn our national anthem in early childhood and every school week starts with Monday morning honouring the flag and singing the anthem.
Mexican athletes sing the anthem and all the fans in the stadium do so too. Albeit badly, tone-wise (in many cases!) we sing it with love and pride. I am nearing 50 and it still brings a lump to my throat when I hear it, and when I hear hundreds or thousands singing it together at a sporting event. No matter what I am doing, if the anthem is played I stop and put my hand on my heart. With conviction!
There is nothing wrong with patriotism and loving your country (nationalism is different, it is looking down on those who are not of your nation).
Why not just create a police state, and we can all sing the anthem and salute at the same time (forced under penalty of suddenly disappearing)
I have to admit: not only do I know my own national anthem "The Star-Spangled Banner," but also a few others, including "God Save the Queen" and "O Canada," among others. I am proud of most of the national anthems of the world and have respect as well.
Amanda is a sport anchor and correspondent for CNN International who has covered live events from the English Premier League to the Champions League; Wimbledon to The Boat Race, and Formula 1 to the Olympics. As a specialist in football and Formula One Amanda has interviewed a host of international sporting faces on her travels, including Bernie Ecclestone, Michael Schumacher, Roy Hodgson, Sven Goran Eriksson, Boris Becker, Fernando Alonso, Jessica Ennis, Goran Ivanisevic, Matthew Pinsent, Bradley Wiggins, Mark Webber, Edwin Van Der Sar, Andrew Flintoff, Colin Montgomerie and Jimmy Anderson.
Football / CNNFC:
Every Thursday at 1600 GMT