London Hockey tournament organisers apologise for 'Die Stem'

By Drum Digital
06 June 2012

"Great Britain Hockey (GBH), 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," GBH chief executive Sally Munday said in a statement on Wednesday.

"The error was made by a contractor responsible for sports presentation at the event."

Munday said it was standard procedure to check anthems with visiting teams in advance.

"However, on this occasion that did not happen and Great Britain Hockey accepts full responsibility," she said.

"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."

Marissa Langeni, chief executive of the SA Hockey Association, was furious with the blunder after a version of the apartheid-era anthem, "Die Stem", was played before their opening match.

"As far as I'm concerned, that was the full version of 'Die Stem', from start to finish," Langeni said.

"I was so shocked I could not even watch the rest [of the game]."

While team manager Les Galloway agreed the anthem was not "Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika", she said the team had initially decided not to take action as she was not sure if the entire version of the old anthem had been played.

Regardless of what rendition it was, however, Langeni said it was not the correct version, and they had demanded an apology.

"Normally anthems are pre-loaded by the host organisers," Langeni said.

"They know which way to fly the flag and which anthem should be played, and the International Hockey Federation actually has a library with all the anthems, which have been approved.

"If the organisers are not sure, they will ask the visiting federation to bring their own recording, so there's no excuse."

South Africa, ranked 12th in the world, were seemingly undeterred and stunned Great Britain, rated fourth, with a 3-1 victory in their opening match of the tournament.

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