BERLIN—Germany’s national soccer team has run into a dust-up over the refusal of some of its players to sing the country’s national anthem—as if losing its captain to injury weeks before the World Cup wasn’t bad enough.

In recent warm-up games before the 2010 World Cup begins in South Africa next week, only a handful of Germany’s ethnically diverse starting lineup have been singing, or at least lip-synching, as the national hymn, “The Song of the Germans”—a truncated version of the original that began “Deutsch land, Deutschland über alles”—plays before kickoff.

…The national team’s coach, Jogi Löw, weighed in Wednesday, declaring to the tabloid that he wouldn’t force players to sing if they didn’t want to. “Our boys identify totally with the national team and Germany, but one also has to consider their heritage,” he was quoted as saying.

…The soccer association says it discussed singing the anthem with the national players but doesn’t require them to sing. “We’re happy if they do, but it’s up to them,” a spokesman says.

…That singing the prematch anthem is considered optional in the first place stems from Germans’ longstanding ambivalence toward anything that could be viewed as nationalist. For years after the Third Reich, West Germans debated what to have as a national anthem, and then whether to sing it.

…”Germans seem to have a rather different relationship when it comes to patriotism and that’s truly rooted in our history,” said Christian von Scheve, a sociology professor at Berlin’s Free University. “In the ’70s, if you watched the coverage, nobody sang the anthem.”


I’ve just been pleasantly daydreaming about the Category 5 shitstorm that would erupt if any American sports team in a foreign competition refused to sing the national anthem. Can’t you just visualize the talking heads across the political spectrum going incandescent with rage here in the Land of the Free™?

I wonder what it would be like to live in a country that might be collectively described as “emotionally mature”.