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Scotland fans booing the national anthem: why do they do it?

The landscape of Scottish football is fascinating and confusing in equal measure. The two most supported teams in the country, by far, are Celtic and Rangers but neither club have much of an affinity with the national team.

Scotland fans booing the national anthem
Scotland fans have booed the national anthem for several years – Photo by Icon Sport

On one hand, you have Celtic, whose catholic ties mean that many of their supporters are fans of the Republic of Ireland. While on the other, you have Rangers whose protestant ties mean that a lot of their fans consider themselves British rather than exclusively Scottish.

While we're not saying that this means nobody who supports Rangers or Celtic is fully behind the Scotland national team, it does mean that the majority of the ‘hardcore' Scotland fans who travel across Europe following the national team are typically fans of other clubs.

These fans are well-accustomed to the intense rivalry that Scotland have with England which has frequently led to Scotland fans booing the national anthem whenever the nations meet on the pitch. Why do Scotland fans do this? And is there more to it than the fact they just don't like England? Here is what you need to know.

Who do we see Scotland fans booing the national anthem?

According to Scotland fans online, the act of Scotland fans booing the national anthem is only something that has recently started. In fact, some fans state that during the 1950s and 60s, Scotland fans would proudly sing God Save the Queen during football matches.

Some fans suggest that the rise of the Scottish National Party in the 1970s contributed to a shift in attitude from Scotland fans towards the English which resulted in the British national anthem being rejected by many.

Since the 1970s, calls for Scottish independence have grown and a referendum took place in 2014 which resulted in 44% of Scottish nationals voting to leave the United Kingdom.

Although that referendum resulted in Scotland staying within the UK, recent polls have suggested that more Scots now want independence than ever before.

The end result of all that is a situation where there is plenty of disdain for the English and more specifically, the English Parliamentary system. A key part of that system is the British monarchy which the national anthem is all about.

Does the national anthem mention Scotland?

Another reason that some Scots cite for booing the national anthem is related to a verse in the song. It's a verse that is rarely heard and is one that has never been sung at a football match but it's part of the song nonetheless. The verse is as follows:

“Lord grant that Marshal Wade, May by thy mighty aid, Victory bring. May he sedition hush, And like a torrent rush, Rebellious Scots to crush, God Save the King.”

The verse has been slated for many years now and there have been plenty of calls in the past for it to be removed. However, as things stand, it is still part of the song which infuriates thousands of Scots.


Andy Delaney

Andy is a freelance sports writer with ten years of experience covering major sporting events across Europe. He has also been a season ticket holder at Old Trafford since 2008 and has visited over 40 football stadiums in the United Kingdom and abroad following the Reds.

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