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The Significance of The Vuvuzela

By Edited Mar 11, 2014 1 0

Two things have caught my attention at the latest 2010 FIFA World Cup. One is how ridiculously light the new ball is and, the second is the constant droning noise created by thousands of people blowing cheap vuvuzelas. Both these things have been criticized in the press and by the players. However, it is the loud monotone horn called the vuvuzela which has come in for the most 'stick' as a footballer would say.

The vuvuzela is very similar to the corneta which has long been used in Latin American football games. In the last 10 or so years the vuvuzela has gained wide popularity in Africa. Every weekend of the football season die-hard fans constantly blow their vuvuzela to support their team. It is believed that the team with the loudest fans has the advantage in the footballing contest. It is very different to singing, booing, swearing and throwing things on the pitch in that the single low note doesn't change and doesn't seem to signify any particular opinion. Yet this is how the fans want to support their teams. Vuvuzelas are easy to play: you just simply purse your lips and blow. Anybody with a set of lungs can play one. FIFA wrongly or rightly allowed people to bring vuvuzelas into the stadiums of South Africa because it was part of African football culture. This seems to be a strong argument to me. Yes, there are health risks associated with standing too close to a vuvuzela and going deaf and also catching a flu virus from the spittle that is pumped out with the sound. But everyone watching at home who are grimacing and the millionaires who are playing must remember that this is what the fans want.

Many successful footballers in Latin America and Africa have come from slums, shanty towns and favelas. Football has provided a way out of poverty for these people. And for the millions of under-privileged in the world, football represents a way of making good, of making a success of yourself and becoming rich. The game is funded by the meager wages of fans around the world. For them one of their greatest joys is to attend a game at the weekend. Football provides identity. It also drives racism and jingoism. It is aspirational. It gives heroes and villains. For countries like Brazil it gives national identity and a feeling that even a developing country can sometimes be better than affluent North America and Europe. Football for me is like cigarettes. The people want to smoke tobacco. The rich and the middle class might do their best to discourage people smoking, they might ban smoking in public places and they might restrict the sale of tobacco but if that is what brings comfort to the millions struggling to make the bread line then who are the rich to stop it. After all, quite a few people are incredibly rich because of the sale of cigarettes around the world.

So if people want to buy cheap vuvuzelas and blow them for 90 minutes let them. If they want to smoke a cigarette let them. What puzzles me is that Adidas brings out a new ball every football competition. It is a great money-earner for them, like bringing out new football kits. Millions of dollars of revenue are generated by this. Yet this new ball is stupidly light. So much so, that the players are finding it hard to keep the ball down and in play. How many passes have you seen over hit this world cup? How many shots have you seen go over? The ball is just too light. It is ruining the competition. Let's complain to the Adidas. They are destroying our enjoyment of the game. People playing the vuvuzela are just trying to enjoy the game in the way they want.



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