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Great Britain apologizes to South Africa for playing apartheid anthem before field hockey game

(AP)

British field hockey officials have issued a "full and unreserved apology" to the South African women's team for playing an apartheid-era version of the national anthem before a London Cup match on Tuesday.

A version of "Die Stem," the old anthem of a divided South Africa, was played before the team upset fourth-ranked Great Britain in their opening match of the tournament.

South African Hockey Association chief executive Marissa Langeni, who wasn't at the match, demanded a full apology after claiming that the original version of "Die Stem," the anthem from 1927 to 1993, was played before the match.

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"As far as I'm concerned, that was the full version of 'Die Stem,' from start to finish," she said, according to Sport 24. "I was so shocked I couldn't even watch the rest [of the game]."

A team manager who was in attendance contradicted the chief executive, saying the version played was more of a "mix" between "Die Stem" and "Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika," the current anthem. Confusing matters even more is that the current national anthem of South Africa features verses from both songs. They were combined in the 1990s after apartheid was abolished in the African nation.

Langeni was upset, regardless of which version was played.

"We would like to formally place on record in the strongest terms our disappointment as a country for the administrative blunder in playing the old, divisive anthem of an apartheid South Africa," she wrote.

Officials at the tournament were quick to respond.

"The error was made by a contractor responsible for sports presentation at the event," Sally Munday said later. "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."

Officials said they would play the correct version before South Africa's match on Wednesday.

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