Belfast Telegraph

Boyce is right, anthems should not be played at football matches

By Lindy McDowell

How to handle the always-tricky issue of which anthems to play at football games?

Don't play any.

The call comes from incoming FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce who argues they often prompt hostility. (And not just in Ireland.)

Not only that, Jim, they can also be a right pain to sit through.

Players at Ireland rugby matches (different sport, I know) have to wait while the band wends its way through the visiting team's national anthem, then the Soldier's Song and then that shoulder-to-shoulder business.

By the time they're released for action on the pitch they must be gagging for their half-time isotonic fluids.

And, let's face it, some national tunes are more catchy than others.

The Soldier's Song scores better than The Queen. The Italian one is quite jaunty but takes a while to get the hang of.

But way, way above everything else is La Marseillaise with that stirring stuff about impure blood watering the furrows. No holding back there. In the net boys!

Maybe that's why we perform less well here.

While the big militaristic anthems are drumming other teams on to glory, we're still scouting around for a tune to promote cross-community cohesion.

So good call, Jim, on the anthem scrappage scheme.

Sadly, however, Mr Boyce feels there might be a market for a FIFA anthem to replace the national ones.

Can you imagine the international haggling and histrionics there'd be over that one?

It's Eurovision.

With added injury time.

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