Whatever led to the curious 4:4 against Sweden, it wasn’t the anthem. The loudest singers made the biggest mistakes.
Per Mertesacker was not the only one who cut a better figure singing than playing. Image: imago
No sooner had the German national team lost the European Championship semifinal against Italy in June than some knew what the problem was: "The stars with an immigrant background (with the exception of Klose) generally remain silent. They have the German passport, but refuse to play the anthem. That can’t be it," found the Bild-Zeitung, and footballers of yesterday (Franz Beckenbauer, Hans-Peter Briegel), in unison with provincial politicians of today (Volker Bouffier, Uwe Schunemann), demanded that they take an example from the fervently singing Italians.
The fact that these Italians were picked apart in the final by a team in which no one sings along because there is nothing to sing along to, but which is the measure of all things in world soccer, namely Spain, was noticed by some – German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich, for example, who spoke out against a compulsory anthem – but not by others. Not Peer Steinbruck, for example, who recently called for singing again.
Fortunately, the national team has moved on. Under Theo Zwanziger, Joachim Low and Jurgen Klinsmann, it has freed itself from the rumpled soccer of yesteryear. It neither looks German nor plays German – at least not in the sense of what German soccer was famous and feared for decades. That’s why Low and other officials at the German Football Association have rejected the idea of a compulsory anthem as absurd.
Nevertheless, this debate is interesting, as it shows the state of democratic culture in this country. State and society have discarded their ethnic character.
But the development is not yet complete; whenever something goes wrong, there are still a few firecrackers who have not understood what distinguishes a liberal republican nation from a national community in which it is not enough for everyone to enjoy the same rights and abide by the same laws, but in which you have to sing along and sway along in order to belong.
Whoever wants to, should sing along with this musically dull and historically not quite kosher hymn. Those who don’t, don’t. Either way, anthems don’t score goals. They don’t even prevent them. Isn’t that right, Mr. Badstuber?