GREECE V IVORY COAST
Guest referee: Pete Paphides — Freelance journalist
Mario Frangoulis — 'Hymn to Liberty'
"Having a rubbish national anthem is really just an excuse to engage in passive aggression on a global scale. However tedious the stirring paean to your motherland emanating from the stadium PA might be, the opposing team and all the dignitaries assembled in their name are faced with no choice but to stand there and take it. And, of all the national anthems on the planet, there are none more passive-aggressive than Greece’s 158-verse monster, entitled Hymn To Liberty. In its way, it’s both impressive and appropriate that this is the song that the Greek XI have to sing along to. If ever there was a musical equivalent of “parking the bus”, this is it. Lyrically, the song minutely details the Greek struggle for independence after centuries of Ottoman rule – and in doing so makes you wonder if it might have all been over much sooner if the Greeks had bored the Turks into submission merely by singing the whole bloody thing at them. Even though the version here jettisons the final 156 verses of the song which began life 191 years ago as a poem by Dionysios Solomos, the remaining two verses still manage to go on for approximately two verses too long. Part of the problem here is popular Greek tenor Mario Frangoulis. Over two decades, Mario has established himself as the sort of clean-cut overachiever that the parents of every listless second-generation Hellenic indie kid raised on a diet of Talulah Gosh and Pukka Pies secretly longed to have. As such, he is my mortal enemy and must be vanquished, possibly by having the entire version sung back at him."
David Debono — 'L'Abidjanaise'
"By contrast, the Ivory Coast anthem, confidently played here by a man in his pants is a jaunty affair. It’s hard not to warm to David Debono as he turns to face the camera and applauds himself before playing a note. Then, as he rises to turn off the camera, David is SO INTO IT that he carries on singing it to himself. Watch, by contrast, the mildly sarcastic air of pomp he brings to the British national anthem. He clearly thinks it’s a dismal, life-sapping dirge which needs to be changed, perhaps for something by The Go! Team or The Feeling. David’s a good person to have onside. He even manages to inject a bit of life into the Greek anthem."
Pete's full time score:
Greece 0 — Ivory Coast 4
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