When the national team is playing the national sport, then the players should sing the national anthem before the match begins. It’s simple really; the England rugby boys manage to do it, so why can’t the football team do it as well?
Singing your national anthem isn’t just exclusive to rugby, or the Olympics or Memorial services. The England football team has been embarrassed far too many times by the heartfelt raucous of an opposing team’s national anthem. I’m not saying it’s immoral or anything, I want to avoid a political debate here. Although surely to not sing the anthem, or even worse, do it half-heartedly, sends the wrong message to the opposition.
When you watch Italy or Brazil sing their national anthems, they do it with a gusto and passion that communicates to the opposition a desire to win. Unfortunately for England, when they sing the national anthem they look as though they would rather be somewhere else.
However, this has not always been the case for the Three Lions. There is a distinctive shift in the performance of the national anthem before and after Sven-Goran Eriksson’s appointment in 2001. Videos can be found on YouTube of the England team singing full heartedly during major tournaments in the years 1996, 1998 and 2000. As uninteresting as this is, it does provide a curious argument that might explain the current reluctance of English players to sing their national anthem.
In his six years in charge, Sven never sung the English national anthem (evidence of this can also be found on YouTube), and why should he, he’s from Sweden.
Although many have feared that Sven’s lack of participation set a trend for the rest of the England squad. Maybe their reservations were meant to save the Swede’s blushes, but it still looks bad on the rest of the team.
Like many fans, I blurt out the anthem at the top of my lungs before a match. Maybe this is why Wayne Rooney is England captain rather than me, because he can control his emotions and save his energy for the actual match.
The era of the so-called ‘Golden Generation’, which featured the likes of, Beckham, Owen and John Terry were frequently under the intense spotlight of the media. The majority of the time this scrutiny had nothing to do with footballing ability, or tactics. The nation’s tabloids just poked fun at anything it could, from wags and shags to good old fashioned alcohol addiction.
What we got in return for all the entertaining headlines was an England team afraid to express itself, on and off the field. If a team is too scared to sing together then how are they going to play together?
As it stands we are never going to see England sing from the same hymn sheet, and until we do, we’ll just have to watch the same old flat performances, during and after the national anthem.