Football

Fans putting on a show during national anthems

TERESOPOLIS, Brazil (AP) — Go ahead, FIFA, stop the music if you want. Fans will keep singing anyway.

FIFA limits anthems to 90 seconds so they can get the World Cup games going quickly. But many national songs last much longer, and the fans — particularly South Americans proud to have the cup in their territory — are loudly taking over with a cappella renditions of the anthems that are bringing tears to the eyes of players.

Unintentionally, FIFA has created some of the most emotional and patriotic moments of the World Cup. "When we hear the anthem being sung like that, we get extra motivated, there's no doubt about that," Brazil captain Thiago Silva said. "It shows that the fans are with us. It has become part of the national team and that has had a great influence on how we play."

Brazilian fans started doing it last year, and supporters of Chile and Colombia have picked up on the idea. With no music in the background, hearing tens of thousand fans sing together has caused goose bumps for many in the stadiums and shocked players from opposing teams.

Before both of Chile's World Cup games, fans sang for nearly 30 seconds after FIFA cut off their anthem— the chorus of which says Chile will be the tomb of the free or the refuge against oppression. "The way they sing the national anthem is impressive, spectacular," Chilean federation president Sergio Jadue said.

Colombian fans put on a spectacle in the match against Greece in Belo Horizonte, loudly belting out "Oh Gloria Inmarcesible!" ("Oh Unfading Glory!") for nearly 30 seconds after FIFA stopped the music inside the packed Mineirao Stadium.

Brazil's anthem normally lasts almost four minutes and has an introduction of nearly 20 seconds before the lyrics start. FIFA said the Brazilian federation provided a 60-second version. After the music ends, Brazilian players and fans continue singing even louder for nearly half a minute, belting out the lyrics, which include a reference to "the resounding cry of a heroic people." The sing-a-along ignites the crowd and motivates the team.

"The reaction from the fans to the anthem has been amazing," goalkeeper Julio Cesar said after the opener against Croatia in Sao Paulo. "It brings them closer to us and we get closer to them." Croatia's players appeared surprised when the crowd kept singing. Some looked to the Brazilian players to see what they were doing, but remained in line respectfully.

FIFA said the fans' singing has not prompted any special instructions, and it was not immediately considering changing the rule. "I don't think FIFA can stop us from doing this, we will sing if we want to, nobody can stop us," said 36-year-old Brazilian fan Vanessa Molica Teixeira. "It's a way for us to express our nationalism, to show how proud we are of our Selecao."

The first time it happened was before the match against Mexico in last year's Confederations Cup, the World Cup warm-up tournament. Cesar said everybody was caught by surprise when the fans kept singing. The players quickly joined in, and a new tradition was born.

"It's like a trademark of this national team," Cesar said. In addition to singing, Brazilian players have started to enter the field with their hands on each other's shoulders. Silva asked the fans to embrace side-by-side while singing, just as the players have been doing. Most of the fans did that in Tuesday's match against Mexico in Fortaleza.

Before a game at the National Stadium in Brasilia on Thursday, Ivory Coast midfielder Serey Die sobbed uncontrollably as his nation's anthem was played. He said the "emotion overwhelmed" him as he was thinking about his father who died in 2004, and about his "tough life" before making it to the World Cup.

The French are usually some of the most emotional when singing "La Marseillaise," but there was only frustration when it wasn't played because of an audio-system malfunction before the team's opener in Porto Alegre last week.

"Whether it's the officials, or the players, we're the ones affected by it and it's a pity," France captain Hugo Lloris said. "A national anthem is something so important. We're playing in the World Cup, we're representing our country."

Associated Press writer Pablo Giussani contributed from Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

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