Reading national anthems before international soccer matches is a long-standing tradition of the game.
Players line up on the sidelines for what is actually an exciting last move before the battle begins on the pitch.
For some – including players – the national anthem arouses emotions and singing it is an essential component of international football. Others respectfully observe the moment in silence, while a few may not even like it.
Here, Goal examines one in particular: that of England.
National anthem of the England football team
The England team uses a variation of “God Save the Queen” as a sports anthem for international matches.
Officially, God Save the Queen is the national anthem of the United Kingdom, but it has been synonymous with England since its first appearance.
Generally speaking, only the first verse of God Save the Queen is used, which means that it falls under the FIFA regulations for national anthems, which state that each team’s anthem must not exceed 90 seconds.
The song tends to be used when the nation is represented in sporting activities, but there are some exceptions. The England cricket team, for example, uses “Jerusalem” as their anthem.
Full “God Save the Queen” lyrics
God Save the Queen (sometimes God Save the King) was adopted as the British national anthem in 1745 and has remained so to this day.
The song is an ode to the seated monarch and calls for the divine preservation of his reign as well as the demise of their enemies.
The original lyrics made specific reference to the then British monarch, King George II, and a number of versions, some of a more militaristic undertone, have emerged over the years.
However, the song has since been standardized and you can see this version in full below.
God Save the Queen
God save our gracious queen!
Long live our noble Queen!
God Save the Queen!
Send her victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us:
God Save the Queen!
Lord our God, arise,
Scatter his enemies,
And bring them down:
Confuse their policy,
Outsmart their tricks of mischief,
On You our hopes we fix:
God save us all.
Your best gifts in store,
On it enjoy pouring;
May she reign for a long time:
May she defend our laws,
And always give us the cause,
To sing with heart and voice,
God Save the Queen!
Alternative English Controversy and Anthems
In football, the UK is represented by four national teams: England, Northern Ireland and Wales. However, only England and Northern Ireland teams use the British national anthem before matches, while Scotland and Wales teams have their own unique national anthems – ‘Flower of Scotland’ and “” The land of my fathers ‘(“Ancient land of my fathers”).
With Scotland and Wales both adopting separate and distinct anthems for the sport, England’s use of the British national anthem – which officially encompasses the whole of the United Kingdom – has been a subject of debate. occasional discussion among politicians, supporters and athletes.
The issue was raised several times and in 2016 a motion by Labor MP Toby Perkins calling for the adoption of an English-only national anthem was debated in the UK parliament. Perkins observed that God Save the Queen ahead of the England matches “reflects the feeling that we regard Great Britain and England as synonymous”.
A 2007 poll conducted by the ‘Anthem4England’ campaign group found ‘Jerusalem’ – the song used by the England cricket team – comes out on top as a preferred alternative ahead of suggestions such as “Land of hope and glory” and “Set Britannia”. Others, including Perkins, have suggested that a new song could be written specifically.
Interestingly, God Save the Queen has occasionally elicited backlash from opposition fans. In 2005, for example, the anthem was booed by Welsh fans in Cardiff ahead of a World Cup qualifying match between Wales and England. At the time, then England captain David Beckham said: “The players were excited for the game anyway, but when they heard that it definitely got us going.”
In 2017, the Scottish Football Association (SFA) was fined £ 4,000 by FIFA after fans booed God Save the Queen ahead of a World Cup qualifying match between Scotland and Scotland. England to Glasgow.
Use of God Save the Queen by other teams
As mentioned, the Northern Ireland squad also uses God Save the Queen as their anthem before international matches, but not without controversy.
The anthem is particularly controversial in Northern Ireland as it is not seen as representative of people in the region who consider themselves Irish and not British.
Former Irish Football Association (IFA) President Jim Shaw acknowledged the difficulty of the anthem in a 2016 interview with the Belfast Telegraph .
“If we keep it, we piss people off and we know that if it continues there will be a lot of angry fans,” Shaw said. “But it’s not for the Irish FA to decide what the national anthem for Northern Ireland is. It’s up to the decentralized government of Stormont.”
Being the anthem of the United Kingdom, God Save the Queen was also used by the British football team during the 2012 Olympics. However, some players from the men’s and women’s teams – particularly those from Wales and England. ‘Scotland – have been criticized by some for not singing.
Elsewhere, while he does not use God Save the Queen, the national anthem of Liechtenstein ‘ up to the young Rhein ‘(“High on the Young Rhine”) uses the exact same tune, which has been a minor source of confusion in games against Northern Ireland or England.
Interestingly, Commonwealth countries such as Australia, New Zealand, and Canada use God Save the Queen as their official royal anthem, but they also each have their own anthem.