Fury as Welsh and Scots snub National Anthem: Captain Giggs stayed silent for God Save The Queen
- Footballer Kim Little and another Scottish player, Ifeoma Dieke, had stood silently before Great Britain women’s opening match on Wednesday
- Welsh footballers Ryan Giggs and Craig Bellamy were both criticised for failing to sing at the first British men’s football match of the Olympics
- Kim Little: Said she made a 'personal choice' not to sing it before her team’s matches at the Olympics because she is Scottish
- 72,176 turned up at Old Trafford to cheers on Team GB
There was anger last night after Scottish and Welsh members of Team GB refused to sing the National Anthem.
Footballer Kim Little said she had made a ‘personal choice’ not to sing it before her team’s matches at the Olympics because she is Scottish.
Both she and another Scottish player, Ifeoma Dieke, stood silently as God Save The Queen was played before Great Britain’s opening match against New Zealand on Wednesday night.
And last night Welsh footballers Ryan Giggs and Craig Bellamy were criticised for failing to sing the National Anthem at the first British men’s football match of the Olympics.
Their decisions are likely to cause huge offence to many fans of Team GB.
Miss Little’s family said the 22-year-old footballer had chosen not to sing the anthem ‘because she is Scottish’.
The rarely sung fifth verse of the anthem, written in the 1740s, includes the controversial words: ‘Rebellious Scots to crush.’
The British Olympic Association was said to be furious about her decision. A spokesman for the association – which has previously stated that all athletes should learn the National Anthem – gave a terse statement saying: 'It's an individual choice (as to whether or not to sing), but the most important thing is to show respect.'
Other British athletes openly criticised her stance.
Former javelin thrower and Olympic silver medallist Fatima Whitbread said: ‘I think it’s a poor show if you are competing under a British flag and you don’t feel proud to be British.
‘It’s fine for you to believe in Scottish independence and to have your own beliefs – there has always been a bit of a rivalry – but if you are competing under a British flag you need to feel British.’
But Miss Little’s grandfather William Little, 82, who is an SNP voter and wants an independent Scotland, said he ‘supported her 100 per cent’ in her decision.
‘It’s the national anthem of England, and she is Scottish,’ he said. ‘It is her decision and I support it 100 per cent. I would have done the same. In my personal view I would like to see a Scotland team at the Olympics.’
He admitted his granddaughter’s decision would ‘offend some people’, but added: ‘I don’t think that’s a bad thing.’
In a BBC interview Miss Little, who is from Mintlaw, Aberdeenshire, said her decision not to sing the anthem was ‘just a personal choice’.
After the match that night, she told reporters: ‘I’m delighted to be representing Scotland in the Great Britain team.’
Her father Calvin Little, 55, an NHS worker, said he was not aware of his daughter’s decision not to sing the National Anthem.
He said: ‘I wouldn’t say she is a nationalist. She is very patriotic for Scotland. She is cheering for Team GB and we’re very pleased and we’re very proud of her.’
The second Scottish player who could be seen not singing the anthem, Miss Dieke, was born in Massachusetts to Nigerian parents but mostly raised in Scotland.
She qualified to play for the USA, the gold medal favourites, but rejected their overtures eight years ago in favour of the country where she was brought up.
The 31-year-old defender, who plays for Swedish side Vittsjö GIK, has said: ‘I came to Cumbernauld when I was three-and-a-half and Scotland is the only country I would feel comfortable playing for... Scotland’s all I’ve known from an early age.’
It was not known last night if Giggs and Bellamy had made an active decision not to sing the anthem at the start of the match against Senegal.
Giggs, who is the Team GB men’s football captain, has previously said he is ‘Welsh and proud of it’ but sees it as ‘nothing but positive’ that he can play for Team GB as well.
But his and Bellamy’s failure to sing drew criticism on football forums and Twitter. One forum member wrote: ‘Ryan Giggs and Craig Bellamy not singing the national anthem of Great Britain was bang out of order! They should be honoured to be there!’
Another wrote: ‘I think it’s down to the fact that they feel under pressure not to sing the national anthem, probably get slated by the taffies.’
However, the two Welshmen did their best to deflect any criticism of their commitment to the cause by combining for the opening goal, with Bellamy netting off a Ryan Giggs cross.
But there was heartbreak for Team GB as Senegal drew level with less than ten minutes to go.
It was Britain's first Olympic men's football match since 1960, but it's 100 years since they last lifted gold in this tournament. And in contrast to the disappointing crowd that watched the women's opening game, 72,176 turned up to watch the men in action.
Giggs, 38, had said before the game: 'To be involved in a tournament at such a late stage of my career is one I'm looking forward to.
'All the lads have embraced it, we were fortunate to go to the village last week, you want to enjoy the Olympic experience but the bottom line is you want to win football matches.'
But it follows another embarrassing day for the Olympic organisers after Welsh player Joe Allen was described as English in the official programme.
The midfielder, who speaks fluent Welsh and plays for Swansea City, is one of five Welshmen in the Team GB squad but the only one mistaken;t identified as English.
A London 2012 spokeswoman said: 'There was an error in our programme and we inadvertently listed Joe Allen as English.
'We apologise for this mistake and new programmes are now being printed with the correction in time for Team GB's next match.'