Champions League anthem: why are British clubs not playing song, Queen links explained - what are the lyrics?

Tony Britten’s famous work is based on Handel's ‘Zadok the Priest’ and has been a part of UEFA’s elite competition since 1992

The iconic Champions League anthem will reportedly not be played at four of this week’s group stage matches as a mark of respect to Queen Elizabeth II.

The famous song, which was first introduced in 1992 and is based on Handel’s ‘Zadok the Priest’, wont be featured at home matches involving UK based sides.

That means that Liverpool v Ajax on Tuesday as well as Chelsea v RB Salzburg, Manchester City v Borussia Dortmund and Rangers v Napoli on Wednesday will instead start with a minute’s silence.

Here is the reason why the anthem is not being played at these matches this week:

Why is the Champions League theme not being played?

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The famous Champions League song will not be played at UK-based UEFA matches this week as a mark of respect to the Queen Elizabeth II, who died last Thursday.

The Champions League anthem is simply called ‘Champions League’ and was first used in 1992 after being penned by British composer Tony Britten.

Britten borrowed heavily from Zadok the Priest, a work penned by German-British composer George Frideric Handel that has been performed at British coronations since 1729 - it is expected to also be played at the coronation of King Charles III.

UEFA are said to have taken the decision not to play their adapted version of the song at UK based games as a mark of respect following the death of the Queen.

Players and supporters will observe a minute of silence before kick-off, and players will wear black armbands.

What are the Champions League anthem lyrics?

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The lyrics to the Champions League anthem are in UEFA’s three official languages: English, French, and German.

They are:

Ce sont les meilleures équipes, Sie sind die allerbesten Mannschaften, The main event.

Die Meister, Die Besten, Les grandes équipes, The champions.

Une grande réunion, Eine große sportliche Veranstaltung, The main event.

Ils sont les meilleurs, Sie sind die Besten, These are the champions.

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Die Meister, Die Besten, Les grandes équipes, The champions.

The complete anthem is usually around three minutes long when performed but it is shortened to just two verses when played before Champions League matches.

Champions League anthem history

The song has now become synonymous with the UEFA Champions League and is not only played immediately prior to kick off but at the beginning and end of television broadcasts and when the winning team lifts the trophy after the final.

The anthem has been performed live prior to many memorable finals, most notably by Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli three times - Barcelona v Manchester United (Rome 2009), Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid (Milan 2016) and Juventus v Real Madrid (Cardiff 2017).

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Other artists to have performed live renditions of the song include Juan Diego Flórez, All Angels, Jonas Kaufmann and David Garrett.

The anthem is also associated with the UEFA Women’s Champions League which was first played in 2001.

The UEFA Europa League and UEFA Europa Conference League have their own, separate anthem - a piece of music created by MassiveMusic which was composed for the start of the 2018–19 Europa League season.