England hockey chiefs apologise for South Africa anthem error


South Africa have received an official apology from British hockey bosses Wednesday after the apartheid anthem ‘Die Stem’ was mistakenly played before their match in the pre-Olympic London Cup on Tuesday.
Marissa Langeni, chief executive of the South African Hockey Association, in a letter to tournament organisers, said the country “watched with disbelief as our team stood through what clearly was a most embarrassing and uncomfortable experience”. South Africa’s women went on to beat their British counterparts 3-1 in their opening game and GB Hockey apologised Wednesday for their embarrassing error.
“Great Britain Hockey, the organiser of the Investec London Cup, offers a full and unreserved apology to the South African women’s hockey team and their supporters for mistakenly playing the wrong national anthem before South Africa’s match with Great Britain on Tuesday afternoon,” chief executive Sally Munday said.
“The error was made by a contractor responsible for sports presentation at the event. “Standard procedure would be to check anthems to be played with visiting teams in advance, however, on this occasion that did not happen and Great Britain Hockey accepts full responsibility. “Great Britain Hockey and its contractor appreciate the sensitive nature of this unfortunate mistake and we apologise unreservedly for the offence caused.
“The correct anthem will be played before all of South Africa’s remaining matches, beginning with the team’s second fixture against Germany on Wednesday evening.”
Langeni added the incident had overshadowed what had otherwise been a great day for the team.
“We are extremely disappointed that an administrative blunder has been the source of much embarrassment for our team and all South Africans,” she said in a statement prior to the apology.
“The anthem played caused our team much discomfort as they stood not knowing what to do with themselves. This incident has robbed our team of what should have been a moment of pride.”
Since 1997, the South African national anthem has been ‘Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika’ (God Bless Africa), a hybrid song of five languages which includes extracts of the anti-apartheid hymn and a verse of ‘Die Stem’.
The multi-lingual song has faced previous maulings, notably ahead of a 2009 rugby test match with France where reggae singer Ras Dumisani was accused of butchering his rendition which drew laughter from the Toulouse crowd.
“It was a joke out there. The guys couldn’t sing along to it and even the crowd were starting to laugh. It was very disappointing,” said Springbok vice-captain Victor Matfield of the off key performance.
Last year, the anthem was bungled again by well-known local musician Ard Matthews at the naming of the Springbok squad for the 2011 Rugby World Cup which he later apologised for.