Sri Lanka World Cup song dropped 'for causing offence'

By Charles Haviland
BBC News, Colombo

Image caption,
Sri Lankan fans are renowned for their exuberant support of their team

Broadcasters in Sri Lanka have stopped playing a song backing the country in the Cricket World Cup over fears it might cause offence.

The song was launched in January at a glittering event attended by national cricket captain, Kumar Sangakkara, and cricket board officials.

It was billed as the "Official National Cheer" for the team.

But the lyrics sung by young pop star Lahiru Perera reportedly upset President Rajapaksa.

The World Cup finals, which began last Saturday, are being played in Sri Lanka, India and Bangladesh.

Reports quoting a presidential aide said President Rajapaksa was unhappy at taunts in the song against competing countries.

He reportedly asked state radio and television to stop broadcasting it. Private broadcasters told the BBC that they too have ceased airing the song.

It has now been replaced with a new song sung by a veteran artist.

The pop video, which is mainly in Sinhala with a few Tamil words, also contains lyrics which might be deemed to touch on religious sensitivities.

"Come on, come on," runs the song, urging supporters to raze West Indies coconut trees, break the jaws of sharks in New Zealand, melt the snow on Indian mountains, and feed bird food to kangaroos in Australia.

It promises that the Sri Lankan side will shake the roof of the "English palace" - presumably Queen Elizabeth's residence - and "will shatter the roof of heaven" with their sixes.

The song's mood is light-hearted and in the style of a dancing song, popular in Sri Lanka, known as baila.

The singer, Lahiru Perera, quoted by the Associated Press news agency, said he did not intend to insult other countries and that he was at a loss to understand how it was being taken off air after being approved earlier.

"I only tried to include some humour as this is a song to encourage the team. I did not want to insult anybody," AP quoted him as saying.

This is the second musical incident to hit the World Cup in Sri Lanka.

Just before the tournament began, the chief of police banned traditional bands of drums and other instruments from the terraces and stands.

But after fans expressed widespread disapproval, the ban was lifted, reinstating the custom whereby fans can urge the national side on with their music.

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