Spain to get something to sing about

June 4, 2007

A Spain fan waits in the stands ahead of the World Cup match against France in Hanover

Does singing along to a rousing national anthem boost you teams chances of sporting success? Some Spanish sportspeople obviously think so as they have asked the countrys Olympic Committee to come up with some words for the national anthem, La Marcha Real.

While England belt out God Save the Queen before their matches, and France link arms for an emotional chorus of the Marseillaise, la Furia Roja hum or tra, la, la, along to the wordless Spanish anthem.* Well, everyone except Luis Aragones who sings along with his own mysterious lyrics.

Back in 2003 there was a diplomatic incident when the wrong national anthem was played before Spains Davis Cup final against Australia. The then sports minister ordered the team not to start until they had received an apology after the old republican anthem was played by a lone trumpeter in the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne.

Apparently the error came about because the performer had been given the wrong CD of national anthems. Spain went on to lose the Davis Cup final, though how much that had to do with the anthem gaffe remains doubtful.

PS: The British national anthem has the same tune as that of Liechtenstein, which caused confusion when the two sides met in qualification for Euro 2004. One observer quipped that the supporters were dismayed because they did not know which one to boo.

Simon Baskett, Madrid

* Actually, it goes more like Dum-dum Dum-dum Da-dum-da-da-da Da-da-da-da. There’s a link to play it at the bottom of the page here.


Of course the national anthem did once have some words. First in the time of King Alfonso XIII and then again during the Franco era, but understandably these were dropped when Spain became a democracy.

Posted by Antonio Lopez | Report as abusive

I don’t know what Aragones was mumbling, but sometimes I feel like singing the popular lyrics from my childhood in the 70s… “Franco, Franco, ya tiene el culo blanco porque su mujer, lo lava con Ariel” (“Franco, Franco, already has his bum white, because his wife washes it with Ariel”). Hope this time we manage to come up with a more intellectual version!

Posted by Elena | Report as abusive

Funny post. Really interesting to know that Spain’s anthem has no lyrics! And Liechtenstein’s saving the queen also… almost. :D

Posted by Five Times | Report as abusive

How about this:

Easy! Easy! We find it really easy
Just to qualify
And then we mess it up

Lisbon, Hanover, Ko-re-a or Rome
When the quarters come, you know we’re going home

OK, it might need a bit of work…

Posted by Rafa | Report as abusive

Coming up with acceptable words to a national anthem is going to be tricky in a place which is nervous even about calling itself one nation. If they insist, I’d ditch the current tune and just go with something by Serrat. “Fiesta” sums up Spain about perfectly, and it’d certainly liven things up at Euro 2008.

Posted by Kev | Report as abusive

I see that there is even a bit of a controversy in some of the Madrid-based sporting press claiming that the two Barcelona players in the squad (Xavi and Carles Puyol) turned down their socks which are topped with the colours of Spanish flag so that they would not show in the team photo for the recent Latvia match, so I think putting words to the anthem could prove to be a bit problematic.

Posted by Simon Baskett | Report as abusive

What are the words from the France era, Simon? Are they particularly outrageous?

Posted by Rafa | Report as abusive

Here’s the link to the previous versions of the words during the Franco era and that of Alfonso XIII.

By the way Aragones was quoted as saying this week in AS that he sings the version from the Franco era because he was taught it at school.

Posted by Simon Baskett | Report as abusive

Spain is a multicultural country, there are several languages spoken there: Spanish, Catalan, Basque and Galizian. The Spanish-speakers will not accept an anthem in several languages and the Spaniards with a motherlanguage different from Spanish will not accept an anthem only in Spanish.
I think that an anthem with lyrics will not mean unity if not the contrary.

Posted by Xavier | Report as abusive