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Wrong national anthem played at Fed Cup on Maui


    Germany’s Julia Goerges returned the ball to USA’s Coco Vandeweghe before their match was suspended by rain.

KAANAPALI, Maui >> After an outdated stanza of the German national anthem was sung during the opening ceremonies, the United States took a 1-0 lead and was ahead in the other opening match in its best-of-5 Fed Cup quarterfinal today.

Alison Riske beat Andrea Petkovic 7-6 (10), 6-2, and CoCo Vandeweghe led Julia Goerges 6-3, 3-1 when rain halted play.

The stanza of the anthem that was sung dates to World War II-era Germany and brought a stern response from Petkovic, and an official statement of apology from the United States Tennis Association.

Petkovic, who was born in Bosnia, said in the German-speaking portion of her press conference that she considered walking off the court as the anthem went on.

“I thought it was the epitome of ignorance, and I’ve never felt more disrespected in my whole life, let alone in Fed Cup, and I’ve played Fed Cup for 13 years now and it is the worst thing that has ever happened to me,” Petkovic said after her loss.

The USTA responded quickly with its official statement.

“The USTA extends its sincerest apologies to the German Fed Cup team and all of its fans for the performance of an outdated national anthem prior to today’s Fed Cup competition,” the statement said. “In no way did we mean any disrespect. This mistake will not occur again, and the correct anthem will be perfrormed for the remainder of this first-round tie.”

Riske was apologetic in her press conference.

“As it was happening, obviously, we have no idea,” Riske said. “But news got around to us and it’s extremely unfortunate. We have nothing but respect for the German team and obviously that will not happen again.”

Following the completion of the suspended match Sunday, the sides will play reverse singles and a doubles match.

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  • Protocol blunders like this do happen. A major one, also involving Germany, occurred in the 1980s when Erick Honecker, the leader of Communist East Germany, visited Brazil. The “Deutschlandlied,” West Germany’s national anthem, was mistakenly played during the welcoming ceremony. Honecker took it like a man, perhaps knowing that one day it would become the national anthem of a united Germany. In 1981, I was a delegate to an international conference in Venezuela that was attended by 52 member nations including South Korea. North Korea was not a member nation. At a reception for delegates, the flags of all member nations were displayed on the walls of the reception hall. I informed our Venezuelan host that they had mistakenly hung the North Korean flag instead of South Korea’s flag. The North Korean flag was quickly replaced by the South Korean flag by our embarrassed Venezuelan hosts in the presence of several hundred delegates. More recently in June 2016, the Chilean national anthem was played at a Copa America match between Uruguay and Mexico at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. With regards to the flap at the Fed Cup on Maui, the organizers would have been okay if they had played the German national anthem without any lyrics. It was the Nazi-era lyrics that caused the flap.

  • one job all year, just get the anthems to participating player’s country correct. one job, and it couldn’t be done.

    hope germany is above playing “dixie” at any ceremony introducing american athletes.

  • Yeah, the first stanza was sung in Nazi Germany (including at the 1936 Berlin Summer Olympic Games) but people should realize the lyrics date from 1841 – long before Hitler or the Nazi Party existed.

    You can legitimately criticize the first stanza for geographical anachronisms and the second stanza for a somewhat chauvinistic treatment of women, but you need to also accept that the song was a democratic appeal for the unification of the many local states and monarchies.

    Actually, as national anthems go, the Deutschlandlied (with all three stanzas) is pretty tame. It’s nearly as tame as Japan’s Kimigayo (though it should be noted that a good number of Japanese actively dislike singing it or cannot even undestand it). Look to our own The Star-Spangled Banner as a point of comparison.

    A big reason why the first stanza of the Deutschlandlied is so despised is simply due to a deliberate mistranslation for propaganda purposes by the Allied powers in both World Wars. There is a distinct difference between über alles i.e. above all else (for me), and über allen, above EVERYBODY else.

    Finally, I do find it a bit amusing that the photo heading this article clearly displays the brand name “Porsche” as worn on the uniform of the German player. Why, don’t people realize that if not for capricious luck, the Allies would have faced Porsche-designed Tiger I and II heavy tanks during World War II? Somebody ought to file a complaint or organize a protest rally don’t you think? 🙂

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