Spanish Olympic Committee withdraws lyrics for anthem

16th January 2008, Comments 0 comments

The Spanish Olympic Committee (COE) on Wednesday withdrew its proposal for the lyrics of the country's national anthem.

16 January 2008

MADRID - The Spanish Olympic Committee (COE) on Wednesday withdrew its proposal for the lyrics of the country's national anthem, one of the few in the world not to have lyrics.

COE president Alejandro Blanco said the committee was withdrawing the proposal because it had prompted controversy and criticism.

"We maintain the idea of having lyrics" despite cancelling the current proposal, Blanco said.

The COE had launched a lyrics contest at the request of athletes unable to sing the Marcha Real (Royal March), Spain's national anthem by an unknown composer, at sports contests.

The COE also wanted to boost Madrid's bid to host the 2016 Olympic Games.

A jury scrutinised about 2,000 proposals for lyrics, choosing the ones written by Paulino Cubero, a 52-year-old unemployed engineer.

The first of four verses said: "Long live Spain!/Let us sing all together/with different voices/and a single heart."

The lyrics tried to stress diversity within unity to avoid offending Basque, Catalan and other regional nationalists who do not identify with the Spanish state.

Representatives of the governing Socialists and of the far left slammed the lyrics as old-fashioned and unfit to represent modern society.

Regional nationalists showed even less enthusiasm. "It is not my anthem and my nation," said Joan Tarda of the Catalan separatist party ERC.

The COE cancelled the sports gala at which tenor Placido Domingo had been due to sing the anthem on 21 January.

The COE would have needed to collect half a million signatures to present the proposal to parliament.

The Marcha Real, whose origins are unknown, was first printed in 1761. Lyrics were used for it during the 1886-1931 reign of King Alfonso XIII and under 1939-75 dictator Francisco Franco, but neither version was made official.

[Copyright dpa 2008]

Subject: Spanish news

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