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Post-National Football?

NEW YORK – Some of the more hysterical German newspapers blamed Germany’s defeat against Italy in the semi-finals of the European championship on the fact that few players bothered to sing the national anthem. Contrast that with the Italian players, all of whom belted out the words of Il Canto degli Italiani (The Song of the Italians). Indeed, the captain, Gigi Buffon, sang with his eyes closed, as though in prayer.

But the Italians had no chance in the final against Spain, the best team in the world, none of whose players opened their mouths during the Spanish anthem, Marcha Real – which stands to reason, given that the “Royal March” has no lyrics. And, besides, the Catalonian players feel uncomfortable with the national anthem, which was much promoted under the late dictator Francisco Franco, who hated Catalan nationalism.