Any war cry has a meaning behind it. It is not about the state of war, but the feeling generated by the defence of a territory or a nation. For centuries, tribes identified themselves through chants or music, and today, nations identify themselves through their national anthem.
Anthems, as well as harbouring a sense of identity, are also a strong moral support that helps to keep in mind where a national team comes from. When a World Cup takes place, the national anthems can be heard before each match.
However, the anthem is not exclusive to one national team, but also to the different clubs of a country. In Spain, many fans have the privilege of listening to their team’s anthem every fortnight. The anthem of a football team is one of the most symbolic things a club can have.
Many football clubs and national teams have an anthem, either with or without lyrics, which is usually played before the start of the match. This anthem generates a deep feeling among the fans and even among the players themselves, who sing its lyrics with passion, if it has lyrics at all. Many are even moved by what the anthem represents for them and the club they follow.
One of the most beautiful and representative anthems in existence is that of Liverpool Football Club called you’ll never walk alone. It was composed by Oscar Hammerstein and Richard Rogers in 1945. In Spain, two of the anthems that are considered to be the most beautiful according to various surveys are those of Fútbol Club Barcelona and Sevilla Fútbol Club.
The anthem of the Spanish national football team has no lyrics, which is a real shame. In 1965 some politicians of the time removed the lyrics to the Marcha al Sol, which were the lyrics of this anthem. Since then, attempts have been made to reinstate the lyrics to the Spanish anthem without success. The search for it should be taken more seriously, because according to a study published in the European Journal of Sport Science, football teams that sing the lyrics of their anthem passionately are more likely to win.
The researchers who carried out the study analysed the way in which the teams that took part in the 2014 World Cup sang their national anthems before each match, and the truth is that they found big differences between them, which they have indicated have a lot to do with the results obtained on the pitch.
The researchers looked at both verbal and non-verbal cues. They analysed whether the players sang, how loudly they sang, their facial expressions and their body language, even taking into account certain details, such as the closeness between teammates and the hugs they gave each other.
The anthem indicates the level of unity of the team
A professor of sports psychology at Staffordshire University who was involved in the study explained that the level of passion players show when singing the anthem can be indicative of their team’s failure or success in the match.
Teams that sang the anthem together more enthusiastically conceded fewer goals, although this did not mean they scored more. The effect seems to be enhanced in the knockout stage, where singing the anthem lyrics more passionately can increase the likelihood of victory, according to the researchers.
They believe that the playing of the national anthem by a team gives a small glimpse of the unity of that team. When it is sung with passion, the players seem to signal that they are ready to fight and to give their all for their team and their nation, a passion that is capable of rallying forces and intimidating the opposing team.
Passionate renditions of the anthem represent the strength of connection and enthusiasm for the team. If players sing with passion because they truly identify with their nation and their team, performance and collective effort is likely to grow. However, if players show passion only because they have been taught to do so, success is unlikely. This means that they do not have to sing as if they feel it, but they really have to feel it.
The best football anthems in the world
A large part of the fun that can be experienced on a football pitch is not only related to the saves, dribbles and goals, but also to the mysticism that emanates from the stadium with its atmosphere and when the fans sing their team’s anthem and chant other songs.
A prestigious French magazine has compiled a list of the best anthems that can be heard in a football stadium. Here’s what they are:
10. El Cant del Barça: Fútbol Club Barcelona.
9. Forever blowing bubbles: West Ham United Football Club.
8. Dale Cavese: Club Atlético Boca Juniors.
7. Ooh Ssh!: Be?ikta? Jimnastik Kul?b?.
6. Don’t take me home: Newcastle United Football Club.
5. Himno del centenario: Sevilla Fútbol Club.
4. Horto Magiko: Panathinaikos Fútbol Club.
3. Toujous on va gagner: Wydad Athletic Club.
2. Roma, Roma, Roma: Associazione Sportiva Roma.
1. You’ll never walk alone: Liverpool Football Club, Borussia Dortmund y Celtic Football Club.