The synergies between football and music could hardly be more apparent or harmonious, with both stirring human emotions across the globe like almost nothing else. Could you imagine the players parading on to the field before kick-off without a musical accompaniment? In many countries, the scoring of a goal is marked by a celebratory tune over the stadium PA. And at internationals, fans everywhere feel a swelling of pride when the teams stand to attention for the eagerly awaited pre-match national anthems.
World-renowned coach Giovanni Trapattoni even believes music can make a better player. "If you listen to Mozart, you’ll play better football," he once said. "You learn a lot about intervals, tempo, rhythm. You learn the logical skills you need to read a game."
Nowadays, almost every serious club around the world has its own song or anthem, and naturally, each FIFA World Cup™ comes with a specially composed and performed song. It was due in no small part to the global showdown in South Africa that Shakira’s Waka Waka stormed to the top of the charts all over the world in 2010.
The obligatory huge headphones
A few decades ago, the German national teams of the time even showed a certain proficiency in Spanish at three consecutive tournaments. In 1978 they warbled Buenos dias, Argentina by way of a welcome; at Spain 1982 they hollered Olé España; and in 1986 they flattered the hosts by singing Mexico, mi amor. For the 1994 edition in the USA, the Germans switched to English and joined forces with the Village People to release Far Away in America.
England fans still have a soft spot for their team’s 1982 effort, This Time, which promised to make amends for disappointment in the past and included the line: “This time, we'll get it right.” Unfortunately, the supporters are still waiting for the players to deliver on that promise, although the team put out another musical hit some eight years later in a joint production with New Order resulting in the exceptionally popular World in Motion, including a nice burst of rap by John Barnes.
And of course, the players themselves are often passionate music fans. Nowadays, the wearing of super-size headphones on arrival at stadiums or for the pre-match pitch inspection has become near-compulsory for younger players. The huge headgear has a practical purpose as well, of course, as it enables the stars to avoid reporters’ prying questions after a defeat.
Man or mouse?
For Marcell Jansen, an evening meal with his girlfriend and well-known rapper Bushido even ended with an appearance on the big stage. Jansen’s partner revealed to the musician that the Hamburg defender knew one of his songs off by heart. The next day, Bushido summoned the player to the stage at a concert in the northern port city with the words "man or mouse?" Jansen proved to be the former and performed with the rapper in front of a crowd in the thousands.
Hamburg is far from the only club where the stars have a fondness for music. By way of an example, dressing room DJs are popular among their fellow players at Germany’s most successful club Bayern Munich, where Jerome Boateng and Bastian Schweinsteiger are responsible for the entertainment. "The songs they play are always fast. We’re motivated by the music and the high tempo rhythm," revealed centre-back Dante.
And among German observers of the scene, a performance by Lewis Holtby (Tottenham Hotspur) and Andre Schurrle (Chelsea), when they were together as younger men with Mainz, has become the stuff of legend. Just for fun, they appeared on TV as a boy band, a ritual they began to use as their goal celebration.
50 Cent, jazz and Smokey Robinson
France superstar Franck Ribery is a lover of hip-hop from his home country, while Germany’s Marco Reus is known to listen to Justin Bieber. World and European champion Juan Mata of Spain told FIFA.com that he laps up all kinds of music provided it’s played live.
FIFA World Player of the Year Lionel Messi is a fan of Argentinian artist Sergio Torres, Lilian Thuram is a jazz aficionado, Philippe Senderos likes John Legend, Kristian Nemeth favours 50 Cent and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and England manager Roy Hodsgon, after a pause for thought in response to a question about his favourite song, named The Tracks of my Tears by Smokey Robinson.
"Music plays a very important role in my life," David Alaba, a friend of rapper Kay One, told FIFA.com. "I try to get fired up before matches and listen to music which motivates me. After a match, it depends totally on the result. If we’ve lost, I want to switch off and listen to calming music, so I can carefully think through what happened."
Earlier this year, Chelsea keeper Petr Cech wasn’t content just to listen, but actually took to the drummer’s throne and picked up the sticks for a turn at a Czech rock festival with well-known band Eddie Stoilow in front of more than 10,000 people. "It was nerve-wracking, because if the drummer makes mistakes, the whole thing falls apart," said the Czech Republic international.
Football and music stir the passions
To cap it all, a little while ago a scientific researcher ran a project by the name of Soundsoccer to examine just how far music could help footballers improve their coordination. The scientist took two teams and had them play a match while wearing wireless headphones. During the game, one team listened to a particular song which began at a different point in time for each player. The other team listened to the song all at the same time – and their passing was more precise.
So does good music actually improve the standard of play during matches? We’ll probably never get an answer to that question, as it seems highly unlikely that headphones will be approved as acceptable equipment on the field. However, the study certainly seems to confirm a close intertwining between the worlds of football and music.
Eros Ramazzotti, undoubtedly one of the most famous and successful Italian popular artists of all time, gave his opinion to FIFA.com a few months ago in a simple statement: "Football is music," he declared. Or as world-renowned Colombian star Juanes describes it: "You throw yourself into it, and it moves something within people. You need your feet for football and you need words for music, but fundamentally they arouse one and the same thing: passion."