For some unfathomable reason, the TV producers responsible for the Euro 2012 live feed not only chose to reprise the traditional, if stupid, practice of sticking a camera in the face of each player during the singing of his team’s national anthem; they even added a directional mic. So we now know, for example, that Gigi Buffon has a great singing voice. But we were also given the disconcerting image of many players not bothering to sing at all; France’s Franck Ribéry even winked at the camera before electing not to sing ahead of the England game.
Many players remain silent because they’re immigrants who don’t necessarily buy into their country’s national narrative (often because they came from countries that were its victims). Others simply can’t be bothered to engage in such passé displays of patriotic kitsch. Either way, the image of some players singing their hearts out amid others adopting a “get on with it already” silence can be a little, uh, discordant.
Spain, however, is always a picture of national harmony, even if its starting lineup includes five Catalans, a Basque and an Andalusian — all regions that have long resisted bending the knee to Madrid. But whether they’re Basque, Catalan or Madrileño doesn’t matter — none of them sing. That’s because Spain’s national anthem has no lyrics. Could the instrumental national anthem be another lesson the Spanish have to teach the footballing world?