THERE is nothing in sport that makes me more sick to the stomach than hearing fans boo the national anthem – whatever country we are talking about. And what makes it worse, I am ashamed to admit, is that we the British are the biggest offenders.
This time it was the Welsh who were the first to disgrace themselves with an ear-splitting chorus of boos that greeted God Save The Queen before the Euro 2012 Qualifying match against England in Cardiff.
But England’s mindless morons responded just as badly. And we all know they would have started the booing if the Welsh anthem had been played first.
How pathetic and condescending of England’s tainted captain John Terry, controversially re-instated by Fabio Capello, to infer otherwise when he claimed the boos provided the inspiration England needed to put the Welsh in their place. ‘They were booing the National Anthem and the players were very pumped up because of that,’ he said. ‘The players are very proud and ready for the game but when you hear that you get pumped up even more. We showed that from the start.
‘When you go away you expect things like that but, when you hear it, it makes you stick your chest out even more. You can hear the English fans singing and you want to do it for them as well as yourself.’
OK Terry, we get the point. But why don’t you lambaste the English fans when they do the same thing. What makes it worse on this occasion is that God Save the Queen is the national anthem of the United Kingdom, of which Wales is a part and one shudders to think what our brave servicemen around the world who give their lives in battle think of their own people acting so shamelessly.
But it is not just the football crowd who bring shame on Britain. Ricky Hatton was famously let down by his followers in Las Vegas in 2007 before he was embarrassingly outclassed by Floyd Mayweather Jnr in his WBC World title defeat.
Hatton’s British fans loudly joined in when Sir Tom Jones sang God Save The Queen. But when Tyrese, the R&B singer, stepped forward to sing The Star- Spangled Banner, the United States national anthem, he was almost drowned out.
The singer gamely plugged on. But many were rightly outraged. HBO’s commentators were quick to condemn the fans they had been praising moments earlier and one HBO technician in the ring gave a middle-fingered salute to the crowd.
The Americans have their faults. But it is hard to imagine their people lacking the class and dignity so often seen by so-called sports fans from Britain.
It is a sad fact that God Save the Queen is regularly targeted by England’s Celtic rivals back in the UK because it is the anthem used by England.
Embarrassingly, last September The Scottish Football Association was forced to apologise to Liechtenstein after Scotland fans booed their national anthem before a Euro 2012 qualifier – because it has the same tune as God Save the Queen.
At the time George Peat, the Scottish FA’s acting chief executive, said: “I was embarrassed and extremely disappointed by the disgraceful behaviour of some of our supporters during the Liechtenstein national anthem at Hampden Park last night.”
It was poetic that the booing seemed to spur minnows Liechtenstein on, and they took a shock 1-0 lead. Scotland only saved themelves from a humilaiting result with a winner SEVEN minutes into injury time at the end of a match against a team ranked only 141st in the world.