The United States Tennis Association (USTA) became the center of an embarrassing blunder when it mistakenly performed the Nazi-era version of Germany’s national anthem before a Fed Cup match in Hawaii on Saturday.
“Deutschland, Deutschland uber alles, uber alles in der Welt,” sang a local opera singer, as Germany’s Andrea Petkovic was getting ready to take on America’s Alison Riske in a singles match. The anthem’s opening verse translates as “Germany, Germany, above all, above all in the world,” and it was previously used as propaganda by the Nazi regime.
Written in 1941, “Deutschlandlied” is still Germany’s official anthem, however, its modern version excludes the first two verses with only the first stanza being sung today.
Apparently, no one at the USTA got the memo.
“We were left shocked and did not know how to react,” said Petkovic who went on to lose the match to Riske.
“I thought it was the epitome of ignorance, and I’ve never felt more disrespected in my whole life, let alone in Fed Cup, and I’ve played Fed Cup for 13 years now and it is the worst thing that has ever happened to me,” Petkovic added after the game on Saturday.
The German team’s coach, Barbara Ritter, said that the mistake was “an absolute scandal, a disrespectful incident and inexcusable.”
The USTA apologized in a tweet later on Saturday:
The USTA extends a sincere apology to the German Fed Cup team & fans 4 the outdated National Anthem. This mistake will not occur again. pic.twitter.com/4LyG3ACe5u
— USTA (@usta) February 11, 2017
Still, the organization found itself in the crosshairs of outraged German tennis fans, with the unfortunate gaffe being covered by dozens of media outlets all over the world.
This is yet another example of how surprising and unpredictable PR crises often are. Luckily for USTA, the organization was able to react quickly and issue multiple public statements apologizing for the incident and making its side of the story heard by German tennis officials and fans alike.
So, although the USTA may have dropped the ball with its anthem blunder, we think that its post-incident game plan was quite on-point.
Check out the video of the incorrect anthem performance below: