Flying the flag for sport

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The Independent Online
Chris Smith, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, yesterday ruled out banning the playing of the national anthem and the waving of the Union Jack at football matches and other top international events.

His pledge came after it was reported that his junior, the sports minister Tony Banks, had suggested that "God Save the Queen" should be prohibited because it stirred up aggressive nationalism on the terraces. Mr Banks told his local east London newspaper: "National flags should not be carried into the stadium ... because then sport becomes almost an extension of war ... I think you should glory in the sport, not the nationalism behind the sport."

But Mr Smith said: "The position of the Government is very clear: there is no problem at all with singing the national anthem, flying the Union flag at football matches or any other international games. We need pride in our country and in our country's team."