Through three days of competition, there has been one constant at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa – the noise.
Normally the atmosphere of a soccer game is built around fans of two competing teams singing various (often disparaging) songs in unison, but that’s not the case at this particular tournament. In fact, the only singing I’ve heard so far came during the England/USA match on Saturday.
What has taken its place?
The drone of the vuvuzela, the long, plastic horn in the hands of (what seems like) 80% of the people attending games in the various South African host cities.
It’s an unmistakable sound – sort of like a giant swarm of bees – and it has drawn the complaints of players and broadcasters alike; now the organizing committee is discussing a possible ban. Organizing chief Danny Jordaan was interviewed by the BBC on Sunday and said it’s definitely been an issue:
“We’ve tried to get some order. We have asked for no vuvuzelas during national anthems or stadium announcements. It’s difficult but we’re trying to manage the best we can. We’ve had some broadcasters and individuals [complaining] and it’s something we are evaluating on an on-going basis.”
Jordaan also said that if any vuvuzelas land on the pitch they’d take action, adding he’d rather have fans singing in the stands than tooting their horns.
(Read between the lines, haters of the vuvuzela - the organizers have laid out one way for you to get the horn banned…it’s now in your hands!)
The first player to blame a poor performance on the instrument is France captain Patrice Evra, saying his team can’t sleep at night because of the noise and can’t hear each other on the field (France and Uruguay tied 0-0 on Friday).
There’s no question it’s annoying, but I think blaming a bad game on crowd noise is a little much given that it’s a constant in one form or another wherever these guys play.
Evra isn’t the only one who hates it though – there’s a Facebook group called “FIFA – BAN THE ANNOYNG VUVUZELA (HORN) FROM THE SOUTH AFRICA WORLD CUP” (all capitals for emphasis, I believe).
The group is over 79,200 members strong and links to a poll where the options are “ban it” and “keep it” – as of Sunday afternoon, it was 68,228 in favor of ditching the horn and 8,408 wanting to keep it.
Here’s the thing – if blowing into a vuvuzela for 90 minutes (plus injury time) is a distinctly South African thing, banning it might be a bad idea. I don’t think it is though, because you see those horns everywhere. The difference here is that people generally don’t blow into them all game long (in fact, doing so might get you into some trouble with the people seated around you).
Will they ban them? I doubt it. Should they? I don’t know.
All I know is that I’d probably have a stronger opinion if I were actually in SA being wakened up by the damn things!