World Cup 2022: why does Spain’s national anthem have no lyrics? Marcha Real and next Qatar fixture explained

Spain kick start their World Cup campaign later today against Costa Rica. The team will stand to listen to their national anthem which has no lyrics

The World Cup in Qatar is now well underway with reigning champions France kicking off their campaign with a triumphant 4-1 win over Australia while England firmly put aside any goal-drought fears as they beat Iran 6-2 thanks to goals from Jude Bellingham, Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford and two from Bukayo Saka. One of the main tournament favourites, Argentina, did not have such luck in their opening match as they suffered a shock loss to Saudi Arabia, while Germany also suffered a shock loss in the shape of a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Japan.

It will very soon be Spain’s turn to start their World Cup campaign as they take on Costa Rica later today, Wednesday 23 November, and after reaching the last four of the 2020 Euros tournament, Luis Enrique will hope he can lead his side one step further this tournament.

As the two nations stand on the pitch ahead of the fixture, fans will note that, contrary to most anthems, Spain’s national anthem has no lyrics. Here is all you need to know about Spain’s national anthem and why the Spanish footballers will not be singing along.

What is the Spanish national anthem?

The Marcha Real is one of only four national anthems in the world to not have official lyrics. It is one of the oldest in the world, first printed in a document dated in 1761 and is written by Manuel de Espinosa de los Monteros. In the initial print, the piece of music is called “La Marcha Granadera” (The Grenadier March) and it first became the official Spanish anthem during Isobel II’s reign in 1874.

Spain’s squad listens to Marcha Real during FIFA World Cup qualifying match in 2022

Why does The Marcha Real not have lyrics?

There are no offical lyrics for the anthem but words have been written and adopted in the past. One version was used during Alfonso XIII’s reign (1886-1931), written by Eduardo Marquina and the three verses were entitled ‘Flag of Spain’; ‘Spain Guiding’ and ‘Long live Spain!’

Another set of lyrics was then written during the Francoist State although none were ever made official and since 1978, the anthem has been played without words when those approved by General Franco were later abandoned. These lyrics fitted the symbols of the extreme right-wing ideology of the General, referred to as National-Catholicism.

In 2007, the President of the Spanish Olympic Committee felt inspired to seek lyrics for La Marcha Real ahead of Madrid’s bid to host the 2016 Olympic Games and organised a national contest, posting 25 different lyrics on their website and although a winner was chosen, they new lyrics received criticism and they were pulled only five days later.

When is Spain’s first World Cup game?

The two teams will meet on Wednesday 23 November, with the match scheduled to start at 4pm GMT. The Al Thumama Stadium will host Spain’s opener and the ground, which was opened in October 2021, has a capacity for 40,000 spectators.

ITV will have all of the coverage from the match and fans can also stream the fixture through the ITVX service, previously called the ITV Hub. Viewers must sign up for a free account in order to watch the coverage.