Let’s scrap anthems before international matches

October 17, 2008

Do all Honduras fans dress like that?French politicians were outraged after the Marseillaise was booed by the large contingent of Tunisia fans before Tuesday’s friendly at the Stade de France.  

Sports minister Roselyne Bachelot said that France matches must be stopped if it happens again and French Football Federation chief Jean-Pierre Escalettes was summoned by President Nicolas Sarkozy for a meeting.  

Escalettes, however, warned of potential security problems if the threat was carried out.

“You can’t take a decision like that without having guarantees in terms of security,” he said. “You can’t throw 50,000 people out on the streets without having planned it in advance.”  

A much easier solution, perhaps, would be not to play national anthems at all.

International football already stirs enough nationalistic sentiments and anthems, many of which have a decidedly belligerent tone, fuel them even more.  

Events in the last few years also suggest that playing anthems merely gives politicians an excuse for sticking their noses into football affairs and creates the potential for embarrassing gaffes.  

Last month, FIFA ordered North Korea to play South Korea in Shanghai after the goverment refused to allow the South’s anthem to be played in Pyongyang.  

Jean-Marie Le Pen, leader of the French far-right National Front, once said goalkeeper Fabian Barthez should be dropped for not singing the anthem and, for good measure, complained that the team had too many “players of colour”.  

But when Italian politicans told the team they should join in with the anthem during the 2002 World Cup, the players made a point of doing the opposite and not singing.

“We sing the anthem every day, even two or three times a day when we are in the team bus. But we have decided not to sing on the field, it is a question of pride,” said midfielder Gennaro Gattuso.  

In any case, so many teams employ foreign coaches and field naturalised players — often with the help of governments fast-tracking passport applications  — that they are becoming ever-less representative of the country they represent.  

One of the most enduring images at the 2006 World Cup was of Mexico coach Ricardo La Volpe hiding in the players’ tunnel before the second round tie against his native Argentina so that nobody would see which, if any anthem, he sang.  

When Argentina-born midfielder Mauro Camoranesi decided to play for Italy, he admitted that he did not know the tune of his adopted country but added: “I don’t even sing my own national anthem.”

PHOTO: A Honduras supporter sings the national anthem before a World Cup qualifying match in San Pedro Sula, Oct 11. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido


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Love the photo, and an intelligent article. http://www.soccershop.com

Posted by karen | Report as abusive

Sadly if racist fans and their clubs are penalized for Monkey Chants by ignorant football fans against black players, then the MORONS who Boo and whistle some other nation’s national anthem be penalized in the identical manner. How about a World Cup or Umder 22(20?) world football championship for the MORONS and their fans who boo another nations national anthem. Racism and bigotry is not just skin deep ,it has nationalistic overtones as well . Banning national anthems is like barring non white players or Irish catholics from playing aganst bigoted European or Scottish ranger fans. Punish the fans and countries ,like Tunisa or ranger Scottish football fans just like the MOROMS who make Monkey chants against Black players.

Posted by Edward Mulrenan | Report as abusive

[…] End anthems altogether? (Reuters Soccer Blog) […]

Posted by Daily Dose: Oct 18th, 2008 | The Offside | Report as abusive

Singing national anthem before the commencement of any match may be boost the spirit of the players.

Posted by pdkamath | Report as abusive

Banning national anthem during international football matches is a very superficial solution. It is in fact an idiotic solution. National anthem evokes national pride and belongingness. It is part of a country’s history and identity. If you remove it from official international matches, you might as well remove the name of your country on the players uniforms.

Posted by bing | Report as abusive

I agree with Bing, you cannot scrap anthems at International matches. It’s a sense of pride and a sense of who you are. Some players sing, others don’t, its their prerogative to do what they feel. As for the fan, I sing the anthem, because its my Country’s warcry and one where I can feel pride and oneness with the players of whatever sport they are representing.

Posted by AC | Report as abusive