June 4, 2007 / 2:56 PM / 13 years ago

Spanish anthem to get words so sportsmen can sing

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain might at last get words for its national anthem following complaints by athletes who want something to sing at big competitions.

Spanish competitors hug, hum or gaze mutely at the sky while their national anthem, known as the Royal March, is played, leaving them at a disadvantage compared to other sporting nations whose anthems have lyrics.

Spain has one of the world’s oldest national anthems, dating back to the 18th century, but it has never had any words.

Following a suggestion by the Spanish Olympic Committee, the conservative opposition on Monday said it would present a bill calling for a committee to provide lyrics in three months.

“It would provide the words, and they should be approved by parliament,” Popular Party leader Mariano Rajoy said.

The proposal drew early support from a senior member of government, with Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos promising to sing any new anthem with passion.

But writing one might be easier said than done in a nation starkly divided over the status of its diverse regions, some with their own languages such as the Basque Country.

Former Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar asked a group of poets and writers to come up with lyrics a few years ago but nobody could agree what they should be.

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