Monday 26 September 2016

Comment: Premier League's La Marseillaise tribute is ridiculous, why isn't Russian anthem played?

Mark Ogden

Published 20/11/2015 | 12:49

During the singing of France national anthem, the England fans hold up cards to create a French Tricolore flag during the England and France International Friendly Match at Wembley Stadium
During the singing of France national anthem, the England fans hold up cards to create a French Tricolore flag during the England and France International Friendly Match at Wembley Stadium

The Russian national anthem must not have made its way into the music libraries of Premier League stadium announcers, nor Humat al-Hima, the national anthem of Tunisia, or those of Nigeria, Malaysia and Turkey judging by their absence from pre-match playlists in the wake of recent atrocities in or involving those countries.

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Still, La Marseillaise is quite readily available on iTunes, so it has not taken too much trouble for all 10 Premier League clubs playing at home this weekend to download their own version of the stirring French national song in order for it to be aired shortly before kick-off this weekend.

From Vicarage Road to the Etihad Stadium, Stamford Bridge to Goodison Park, La Marseillaise will ring out in tribute to those killed in the terror attacks in Paris seven days ago.

It is a noble gesture on behalf of the Premier League, a show of solidarity towards our French neighbours and perhaps even the 31 French footballers currently playing in England’s top flight.

But forgive the impertinence here – has English football not already paid its tribute and displayed solidarity with France with those inside Wembley on Tuesday night singing La Marseillaise as one, whether they were from Portsmouth or Paris, Leeds or Lyon?

Why does the Premier League deem it necessary to pay its own tribute with the widespread playing of La Marseillaise when, already this year, the downing of Russian and Malaysian planes has not led to a similar tribute, despite the greater numbers killed?

Where was the playing of the Tunisian anthem at the start of the season following the murder of scores of British tourists on a beach in Sousse in June?

Terror attacks in Ankara recently passed by without so much as a minute’s silence and there has been little mention this week of similar atrocities in Beirut and Nigeria.

England and France sign the national anthems prior to the international friendly match at Wembley Stadium
England and France sign the national anthems prior to the international friendly match at Wembley Stadium

Football, it seems, is now allowing itself to become stage managed as a theatre for tributes or utterly pointless statements.

When Wayne Rooney spoke of football standing strong and together earlier this week in the wake of the Paris attacks, what on earth did the England captain mean?

How is football standing strong? By playing national anthems and urging supporters to join in?

The singing of La Marseillaise at Wembley was a memorable moment, but imagine how much more touching and meaningful it could have been had it been a spontaneous gesture by 80,000 supporters rather than a pre-planned event?

But the supporters inside the stadium had that opportunity taken away because, by the time the game arrived, singing along to it was what was expected of them.

And so it goes with the playing of La Marseillaise on Saturday.

Imagine instead, a crowd of supporters spontaneously chanting the tune to La Marseillaise during a lull in the game?

But by imposing the tribute, the Premier League has turned it into something rivalling the new John Lewis Christmas commercial as a coffee shop talking point rather than something truly meaningful.

And the obvious question to follow is what happens the next time there is a terrorist outrage?

Should we expect the national anthem to be played before Premier League games or is this just a one-off for some, as yet, undefined reason?

Just let football be football and allow supporters and players to make their own statements, however great or small, rather than laying them out like hymn-sheets.

Telegraph.co.uk

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