From the Associated Press (thanks to Jon Solomon for the tip) :
U.S. and international soccer officials are puzzled over the acting governor’s outrage that the “Star-Spangled Banner” was not played before a match between England and Colombia.
Acting Gov. Richard J. Codey, who attended Tuesday’s match at Giants Stadium, was steamed when he realized that the U.S. national anthem would not be played along with the anthems of the countries in the match.
He said he immediately asked game organizers why it wasn’t played and was told, “Gov., we’re really very sorry. The British people don’t want to hear it,” The Star-Ledger of Newark reported in Thursday’s newspapers.
“When you have two countries you host so they can play each other, and have the anthems of both countries played but decide not to play the anthem of the host country, well that’s about as absurd as it gets,” Codey said Thursday. “What could they possibly be thinking?”
The governor fired off letters to the chairman of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which manages the Meadowlands complex, and to Britain’s ambassador to the U.S.
“The failure to play our national anthem was disrespectful not only to us as a the host, it was disrespectful to our country, the teams, the sport and all involved. This shouldn’t happen in New Jersey, and it shouldn’t happen anywhere,” Codey wrote.
George Zoffinger, chief executive of the sports authority, said not playing the U.S. anthem before an event at the complex is a violation of the authority’s policy.
However, playing only the anthems of the two teams competing a soccer match is standard for such international games, including the World Cup.
“Part of it (anthems) is for the introduction of those players in the match,” said John Schumacher, spokesman for FIFA, the 100-year-old International Federation of Association Football based in Zurich, Switzerland. “The match protocol is only the two teams.”
FIFA, which has 205 members throughout the world, had no jurisdiction over Tuesday’s game.
“Any member is responsible for the international matches that go on in their territory,” Schumacher said.
Jim Moorhouse of Chicago-based U.S. Soccer, the governing body of soccer in the United States, concurred with FIFA’s statements.
“The normal international protocol would be (to play the anthems of) the two nations that are playing,” Moorhouse said. “There are lots of international games played on neutral sites all over the world.”
The FIFA and U.S. Soccer spokesmen said they never heard of a complaint like the one Codey formally made.
(NYC’s Star Spangles. No one wants to hear them, either.)