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Daneel Knoetze and Sapa
The South African Hockey Association (Saha) has requested a personal apology from the manager of the London Cup tournament after the national anthem was botched before the SA women’s team match against Great Britain last night.
The squad stood in embarrassment as the organisers played the apartheid anthem, Die Stem.
The incident prompted South Africa’s Olympic governing body, Sascoc, to launch an investigation into what it described today as a “debacle”.
In a letter to Steven Catton, the Investec London Cup manager, the association asked for assurances that the correct anthem would be played when the team plays again tonight.
The version of the SA anthem sanctioned by the International Hockey Federation was attached to the letter, for “ease of reference”.
But team manager Les Galloway told the Cape Argus from London this morning that she didn’t want to leave anything to chance, and was on her way to the venue to listen to the version of the anthem that would be played before the team’s clash with Germany tonight.
SA Hockey Association chief executive Marissa Langeni said:
“We watched with disbelief as our team stood through what clearly was a most embarrassing and uncomfortable experience.”
Sascoc chief Tubby Reddy has asked the hockey assocation to compile a report on what happened. “It’s a serious matter and we need to find out how it went wrong,” he said.
There was initially some confusion about what had replaced the national anthem, with Saha saying it was a “bizarre” mixture of the old and new.
But this morning Saha said it had become clear on listening to a recording that it was Die Stem.
“We would like to formally place on the record in the strongest terms our disappointment as a country for the administrative blunder in playing the old divisive anthem of an apartheid South Africa,” said Langeni.
Galloway said: “There was a natural reaction from the players, they were bitterly disappointed,” adding that England Hockey had promised an apology.
South Africa went on to beat Great Britain 3-1 in last night’s game.