When you’re the host country at an international athletic event, it’s important to pay attention to the little things. Little things, in this case, including the national anthems of visiting teams.
Australia learned this in 2003 during the Davis Cup. They played the Spanish national anthem before the Finals match between Spaniard Juan Carlos Ferrero and Australian Lleyton Hewitt, but they didn’t play the current anthem. They played a considerably older one. The one from the 1930s.
This would normally be an embarrassing faux pas. Instead, it was deemed a grave insult. That’s because the people of Spain had, at that time in history, tossed out their King.
The Himno is a jaunty piece written in the early 19th century and briefly used as Spain’s national anthem under the republic between 1931 and 1939.
A popular version included a verse in which the queen is beheaded and a man wipes his bottom on King Alfonso XIII, the grandfather of the present Spanish king, Juan Carlos.The Guardian
A diplomatic row erupted, and Australia apologized. They explained that they’d simply been using a CD of various national anthems and had played the wrong one.
Thankfully, this sort of thing isn’t likely to happen three times.
Three, because this was the second time Australia had played the wrong national anthem during a sporting event. The first time was in 1985, at a World Cup qualifier where Israeli and Australian teams faced off in Melbourne. That time, instead of the Israeli anthem, a song honoring another nation was played by mistake.
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