French president Emmanuel Macron has apologized to Albania for a national anthem mix-up ahead of their Euro 2020 qualifier on Saturday, according to Albania prime minister Edi Rama.
The match was scheduled to begin at 20:45 local time in Paris but was pushed back briefly when the wrong anthem was played over the Stade de France's public address system.
Instead of Albania's anthem, the national song of Group H rivals Andorra was aired, much to the frustration of the visiting players and coaching staff who refused to start the match.
France-Albania UEFA qualifier delayed after French play Andorran national anthem instead of Albanian, enraging Albania & leading them to refuse to start the match until the proper anthem was played pic.twitter.com/Qr3oT9rSpN— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) September 7, 2019
After the issue was raised to UEFA and the match officials, the match did begin once the correct anthem had been played – though the gaffe was not helped by the stadium announcer embarrassingly apologising to Armenia instead of Albania.
Rama called the incident a "scandalous gaffe", for which Macron asked forgiveness.
Writing on his official Twitter account, Rama said: "President Macron expressed his sincere apologies for the scandalous gaffe of the French Football Federation, with the national anthem of our country!
"[He] called it an "unacceptable mistake" and appreciated the reaction of our players. He asked me to publish his apology #Respect."
Presidenti Macron më shprehu ndjesën e sinqertë për gafën skandaloze të Federatës Franceze të Futbollit, me himnin e Flamurit tonë Kombëtar! E cilësoi një “gabim të papranueshëm” dhe duke vlerësuar edhe reagimin e lojtarëve tanë më kërkoi publikimin e ndjesës së tij #Respekt 🇦🇱🇫🇷— Edi Rama (@ediramaal) September 8, 2019
The seven-minute delay did little to put the hosts off, however, as France ran out 4-1 winners.