Friday, June 18, 2010

2010 World Cup: Vuvuzelas

What’s more irritating than the constant drone of the vuvuzela?

Many things.

BBC punditry.

ITV punditry.

Moaning about the new ball.

But most irritating of all, the constant drone of moaning about the vuvuzela.

Apparently over 500 people have complained to the BBC about the sound of vuvuzelas ruining their enjoyment of the games.

Really? I’d have thought low scoring, ultra defensive football might be ruining their enjoyment more. Or commentary and studio analysis that seems to be a less than successful balancing act between total ignorance and casual racism.

I’d propose a national complaints hotline for people to complain about these incessant complainers. Name them, shame them and then stand outside their house with vuvuzelas every night for a month.

I can’t say that the noise hasn’t annoyed me at times. But you get used to it.

And what are these people who pick up to the phone actually saying: “There’s a football tournament going on thousands of miles away and it seems that these locals don’t behave the same way at the games as I do.”

Or, far more likely: “These games don’t sound the same as when I watch Manchester United and Chelsea on Sky Sports.”

And the TV and radio presenters moaning during every link up with studios back here. Get over yourselves. There’s thousands of unemployed, under-employed or underpaid journalists would gladly trade places and put up with some local habits for the chance to be a paid eye-witness to Africa’s first World Cup.

And are the vuvuzelas not striking a little blow against FIFA’s apparent aim to turn football the world over into a Coca-Cola emblazoned franchise played out in sterile modern stadia?

Even Sepp Blatter has accepted that the vuvuzela has a more tyrannical grip on this World Cup than he does.

Imagine that drone as a million voices singing “f*ck off FIFA, f*ck off Blatter, f*ck off corporate land grab of football” in perfect harmony and it begins to sound a lot sweeter.

Now I hear that there is a call to ban them from SPL grounds next season.

Lothians MSP Margo MacDonald said:

"But as is obvious from the mounting level of complaint, I think there is justification for the SPL to consider the matter before it becomes a problem here.

"As well as being really annoying, there is also a possible health and safety aspect, given the noise they make."

Much as I respect Margo, and as a season ticket holder at Easter Road and wife of Jim Sillars we must consider her to be one of our most patient politicians, she misses a couple of points.

Firstly, the last thing the SPL needs is more rules and regulations about what can and cannot happen at matches.

And, crucially, the vuvuzela won’t catch on in Scotland. They will no doubt be much in evidence at the start of the season. Football fans are experts at cracking totally original jokes that only another 5000 people have ever thought of before.

But once that novelty wears off they’ll be as out of place as a ‘See You, Jimmy” hat at the South Africa v Uruguay match.

It’s not a part of our football culture, not - to borrow Blatter’s rather overblown phrase - part of the rhythm of Scottish football.

We all worried that South Africa’s World Cup would be out of reach of the local fans. Unfortunately that seems to have been the case but South African football fans have still found a way of giving it a unique local atmosphere. What’s wrong with that?

80 years it took us to take the World Cup to Africa. In return we have got vuvuzelas for a month. Are we really the ones who should be complaining?

Are we just scared of the unknown? The sound has been variously described as "a stampede of noisy elephants," "a deafening swarm of locusts," "a goat on the way to slaughter" and "a giant hive full of very angry bees." I’m no David Attenborough but do those four things necessarily sound the same?