When national anthems at sporting events have gone wrong

Following US Tennis' apology for playing a Nazi-era German anthem at a Fed tie between the two nations, watch six occasions when the national anthems have gone awry in sport.

Sport360 staff
by Sport360 staff
12th February 2017

article:12th February 2017

Germany's Andrea Petkovic was playing in the Davis Cup tie.
Germany's Andrea Petkovic was playing in the Davis Cup tie.
Andrea Petkovic says she has ‘never felt so disrespected’ after a gaffe involving the German national anthem during their Fed Cup tie against the United States.

The Germans were upset and angry following a blunder at the opening ceremony to the World Group tie in Maui, Hawaii, on Saturday.

An American soloist sang an old version of the German anthem which leads off with a stanza considered overtly nationalist – “Deutschland, Deutschland ueber alles” – a reference to German supremacy.

Singing that version is a major ‘no-no’ in Germany, because of its strong links to the Nazi era, and only the third stanza of the old anthem is now in use.

Organisers apologised for the gaffe but a fuming Petkovic went on to lose to Alison Riske 7-6 (12/10), 6-2 to put the USA 1-0 up in the first singles rubber.

The president of the US Tennis Association, Katrina Adams, immediately apologised to Rittner in person and has said they will investigate.

The German tennis federation replied tersely, saying:

The anthem gaffe cast a cloud over the German camp even before Petkovic’s defeat.

Here, Sport360 looks at other examples when the wrong national anthem has been played at sporting events.

URUGUAY VS MEXICO, COPA AMERICA, 2016

Uruguay were in for a shock when they lined up for the national anthems ahead of their game against Mexico, as they were greeted by Chile’s national anthem rather than their own. The gaffe drew a raised eyebrow from Luis Suarez and boos from the Uruguay fans in the crowd.

SPAIN VS AUSTRALIA, DAVIS CUP, 2003

At the 2003 Davis Cup final in Melbourne, a mix-up led to an outdated anthem being played for Spain, one that was used as the national anthem only between 1931 and 1939 and contained crude jokes about the Spanish royal family. The Spanish sports minister stormed out of the stadium, while organisers tried to make up for the mistake by playing the correct national anthem for the rest of the weekend.

2012 ARAB SHOOTING CHAMPIONSHIPS

The people of Kazakhstan were outraged by Sacha Baron Cohen’s comedy film, Borat, in which the country was depicted in a satirical light that was not appreciated. When the spoof anthem used in the movie was played at the Arab Shooting Championships for gold medallist Maria Dmitrienko, the Kazakh delegation was outraged, and the medal ceremony was rerun.

NORTH KOREA vs COLOMBIA, 2012 OLYMPICS

Not exactly a national anthem gaffe, but the North Korean women’s football team was left fuming at the beginning of their game against Colombia in the 2012 Olympics. The big screen at the ground put the South Korean flag alongside images of the North Korean team, leading the team to leave the pitch in protest. The match was delayed by an hour as the error was rectified.

NIGERIA vs JAPAN, MEN’S FOOTBALL, 2016 OLYMPICS

Another Olympics, another error. Organisers at Rio de Janeiro belatedly realised they’d played the anthem for Niger, not Nigeria, ahead of Nigeria’s game against Japan. Fans immediately took to social media to condemn the mistake, and the Nigerian team later received an apology.

ARGENTINA VS EL SALVADOR, 2015 

Isle of Man’s national anthem is called Ellan Vannin in the island’s native language, Manx, which is the only fact that lends a semblance of sense here. Ellan Vannin and El Salvador are next to each other on a list of national anthems, and the Manx anthem was played for El Salvador ahead of this football friendly in the United States.


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