SBD/Issue 189/Events & Attractions

Blatter Cites Tradition In Not Banning Vuvuzelas From Stadiums

Vuvuzelas To Remain At World Cup Venues
After FIFA's Blatter Defends Their Presence

FIFA President Sepp Blatter yesterday "refused once again" to ban vuvuzelas from World Cup venues, according to Jones & Baxter of the L.A. TIMES. Blatter posted on Twitter, "I have always said that Africa has a different rhythm, a different sound. I don't see banning the music traditions of fans in their own country." ESPN, Al-Jazeera, South Korean broadcaster SBS, France's TF1 and Brazil's BandSports "have all received complaints about the racket, which sounds like a swarm of angry bees." But ESPN Senior VP & Exec Producer/Event Production Jed Drake said that while the noise "may make the broadcast difficult to listen to," capturing the sound is "part of capturing the game." Drake: "They are part of the South Africa culture. And you do hear different opinions on them. ... Our host country is South Africa, and so it is what it is" (L.A. TIMES, 6/15). The GLOBE & MAIL's Geoffrey York noted the vuvuzelas are "highly popular among the fans who actually attend the matches in person," and "most players don't mind them too much." And if "anyone tried to ban them ... it would trigger a national rebellion in South Africa." York: "If you're watching on TV, you're never going to get it. But if you're on the ground with the fans ... the vuvuzelas are a big part of the fun" (THEGLOBEANDMAIL.com, 6/14).

BAN WOULD BE AFRONT TO CULTURE: FANHOUSE.com's Kevin Blackistone wrote, "Taking away the vuvuzela would be nothing short of another page of cultural imperialism exercised by Europe on Africa." The vuvuzela "isn't just South African. It is black South African. It is to black South African soccer what the black college marching band is to college football. It just happened to get appropriated, implemented and soon exported world over by this tournament" (FANHOUSE.com, 6/14). In N.Y., Jere Longman writes banning the vuvuzelas "would undoubtedly unleash a fierce response from South Africans, who see the vuvuzelas as an indispensable part of their soccer culture" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/15). ESPN.com's Jemele Hill wrote complaining about the vuvuzelas "just reeks of cultural arrogance." Hill: "The way some people are acting it's as if African fans were the first fans to invent a way of rooting for their teams that annoys people. In other words, one shouldn't throw ThunderStix in glass houses" (ESPN.com, 6/14). FanHouse.com's Jay Mariotti said, "It's part of the soundtrack of South Africa. When FIFA awards this event to South Africa, we have to accept the culture." ESPN.com's Michael Smith: "If it's part of the South African soccer culture, we have to deal with it" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 6/14). ESPN's Tony Kornheiser: "It's not like they weren't blowing this horn in South Africa for quite some time." ESPN's Michael Wilbon: "You knew when they were in the bid process what the vuvuzela was. This is not new to people of international football" ("PTI," ESPN, 6/14). In L.A., Kevin Baxter noted South Africans "have adopted the cheap plastic horns as their own, turning them into something uniquely South African." The Hartford Courant's Paul Doyle wrote, "Let's call the incessant sound of the mass vuvuzela onslaught both a cultural delight and a tad annoying. We can both appreciate it as a South African tradition and be driven to watch World Cup matches with the TV on mute. But let's stop complaining and let's end calls for a vuvuzela ban" (LATIMES.com, 6/14).

Vuvuzelas Have Become The Most-Discussed
Issue During The World Cup

MAKE IT STOP: YAHOO SPORTS' Martin Rogers wrote under the header, "Buzzkill: Vuvuzelas Ruining World Cup Experience." Rogers: "Remarkably, in a tournament involving the finest, richest and most controversial soccer stars on the planet and a misbehaving soccer ball, the most-discussed issue has revolved around a brightly colored plastic instrument so simple that a child could blow it" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 6/14). In Jacksonville, Francine King wrote, "The vuvuzela horns ... are about to drive me insane. I can barely hear the television announcers, or anything else that's going on during the game. ... Listening to 90 minutes of buzzing a couple times a day is starting to make my ears ring a bit" (JACKSONVILLE.com, 6/14). The Orlando Sentinel's George Diaz wrote, "I would rather have Jack Bauer rip off all of my fingernails than listen to the annoying drone of the vuvuzelas for an entire soccer match" (LATIMES.com, 6/14). In San Diego, Mark Zeigler writes under the header, "Fans' Ears Locking Horns With Vuvuzelas" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 6/15). In Toronto, Vinay Menon writes, "Can we just award the World Cup to the vuvuzela and end this tournament?" (TORONTO STAR, 6/15).

NEW, IMPROVED VUVUZELA? YAHOO SPORTS' Rogers reported South Africa-based Masincedane Sport, which "produced nearly one million vuvuzelas" leading up to the World Cup, "hopes that its 'improved' version will make" banning them unnecessary. Masincedane Sport spokesperson Neil Van Schalkwyk: "We have modified the mouthpiece. There is now a new vuvuzela which will blow noise that is 20 decibels less than the old one" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 6/14). In Toronto, Cathal Kelly notes vuvuzelas sell for as little as US$2.62 in South Africa, and "estimates are that 650,000 vuvuzelas ... were bought up before the tournament" (TORONTO STAR, 6/15). Meanwhile, German entrepreneurs Frank Urbas and Gerd Kehrberg, who in March '09 "acquired the resale rights" from Masincedane Sport for vuvuzelas in the European Union, are "betting business will be brisk despite the controversy." Several million "have been produced in Germany," though the horns "have been banned from a number of open-air football screens" in the country (London TELEGRAPH, 6/15).

CUT THE COMPLAINING: In DC, Liz Clarke writes there has yet to be a day "that a global soccer star or highly compensated coach hasn't complained about one thing or another that's spoiling the beautiful game." Several players have said that the "high-tech adidas soccer ball designed expressly for the 2010 World Cup is a disaster," while coaches complained that the "semi-artificial field at Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane -- a mixture of grass and synthetic fibers -- is oddly fast and unpredictable." Also, the "incessant buzz" of the vuvuzelas is "drowning out all conversation on the field." ESPN analyst Alexi Lalas: "It's all whining. It happens at every World Cup with regard to the ball. It happens every World Cup with regard to the surface." Clarke writes the "griping at the 2010 World Cup is adding a new dimension to the game -- and not an entirely flattering or constructive one" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/15).

FOR MORE FROM SOUTH AFRICA: For more World Cup coverage, please see other stories in today’s issue on Hyundai pulling an ad amid criticism from Catholic groups, Dutch female fans being ejected for an ambush marketing effort, South Africa team merchandise selling quickly, viewership being up through three days on ESPN and Univision, ESPN’s on-air talent garnering positive reviews, AT&T Park drawing more than 20,000 fans for a public viewing of Saturday’s game, police taking over security at two venues and late-night talk show hosts discussing soccer.

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