Apartheid-era anthem fires up South Africa team

South Africa's field hockey team sings the national anthem after winning an Olympic qualifying tournament in New Delhi on Feb. 25, 2012.

When you say or do something dumb to energize your opponents before a competition, it's called giving them "bulletin-board material."

As in, they clip your comments from a newspaper and pin them to the bulletin board in the dressing room so everyone can read about it.

Organizers of a women's field hockey tournament in England are now well aware of that.

They offered South Africa a “full and unreserved apology” for playing an apartheid-era national anthem before a game on Tuesday.

“Die Stem” – or “The Call” – served as the country’s anthem from 1957 to 1994 and features lyrics such as “dedicated and true as Afrikaners, children of South Africa,” which doesn't really sit well with many anymore.

A hybrid anthem is now used that blends lyrics of “Die Stem” with “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika,” a traditional hymn; it includes five different languages.

“The error was made by a contractor responsible for sports presentation at the event,” Sally Munday, chief operating officer of Great Britain Hockey, said in release. “Standard procedure would be to check anthems to be played with visiting teams in advance; however, on this occasion that did not happen and Great Britain Hockey accepts full responsibility.”

The South African women’s team exacted their own revenge by defeating Great Britain 3-1 at the London Cup, a final tune-up event before the London Summer Olympics.

A representative of the South African team called the mistake a “most embarrassing and uncomfortable” experience, The Guardian reported.

“The anthem played caused our team much discomfort as they stood not knowing what to do with themselves,” Marissa Langeni of the South African Hockey Association said. “This incident has robbed our team of what should have been a moment of pride.”

Organizers said they would have the proper anthem ready when South Africa returns to the field tonight against Germany.

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