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7 Reasons That Vuvuzelas Are Annoying

Posted on June 15, 2010 in Posts | 0 comments

A fan with South Africa face-paint blowing a vuvuzela, the horn from the 2010 South Africa World Cup (vuvuzelas)

1.  The Obsession.  The nation is obsessed with the vuvuzela.  It’s impossible to read a newspaper, listen to the radio, watch the television, go to the pub, or read an internet humour site without someone bleating on about vuvuzelas.  But I think that this focus on the vuvuzela is causing us to miss out on other World Cup stories.  We’re just not getting enough ill-informed conjecture about problems with the ball: Is it that it’s too round? Is it the altitude?  Does it fly too straight?  Doesn’t it fly straight enough?  Does it look too much like a fly?


The South Africa Football (soccer) World Cup 2010 ball, the Jabulani, as the head of a fly.  A fly's head.  Flies.

It's a fly!

All of the coverage of the vuvuzelas is preventing us from having what we really want.  24 hour per day coverage of the ball.  And more Robbie Savage.

2.  The Name. The English language is a fusion of many languages from around the world and a lot of our words come from other countries.  We get bungalow from India, sepia from Italy, mammoth from Russia and surrender from France (rather unsurprisingly).  Yet it’s safe to say that our language wasn’t aided in its evolution by anyone who had been involved in professional football as, in the past week – from various players and former-players – I’ve heard “vuvulas”, “vuvuslas”, “the horns” and from Sir Geoff Hurst, no less, “uvuvezlas”. The awful mangling of the word vuvuzela is possibly the only thing that’s more grating than the sound of the instrument itself.

3.  Stadium Atmosphere. The din of the vuvuzelas drowns out everything else occurring in the stadiums.  This isn’t always a bad thing, as it drowned out the sound of happy Germans on Sunday, but it drowned everything else out too.  The crowd reaction, singing, cheering, chanting, abuse; in fact, just about all of the things that reflect the partisan nature of football.  The drone of massed vuvuzelas is a relentless unremitting cacophany that doesn’t abuse the referee, ask Fabio to dance, play the theme from The Great Escape (sorry, poor argument); doesn’t do anything fun or interesting at all.  It’s just noise.  An incessant racket that drowns out everything good about the stadium atmosphere.  Everything.

4.  Domestic Atmosphere. The vuvuzela operates at a similar pitch and tone to the human voice which means that, when you’re viewing the World Cup at home, you’re trying to filter out the frequency that other people in the room are speaking at.  Thanks to the vuvuzela, if my wife turned to me during a match and said, “Would you like a beer?” or “Jennifer Aniston’s at the door, she wants to know if you can come out to play,” I probably wouldn’t hear her.  Experience tells me that she’s unlikely to say either of those things, but what if she did and I missed it?  Catastrophe.  I hate going to the fridge.

5.  Envy. It’s substantial, straight and three feet long, and I must say that I’m quite jealous, as there’s no way I could take anything like that to a football match in England.  I’d probably be fed to a police-horse or charged with possession of a vuva vovos avuvuvu…“I’ll let you off with a caution this time sonny, now on your way”.  We don’t even get trusted with bottled water over here.

6.  Sound. The sound of massed vuvuzelas is like the sound of a swarm of angry wasps, but deeper.  Usually, the larger an animal is, the deeper the sound that they make – so it’s giant angry wasps that we’ll hear the sound of all summer.  Giant angry wasps!  Well I certainly won’t be falling asleep during a match, or at any time at all during the summer.  Except when Andy Townsend’s “analysing” the action, that is.

7.  We’re Stuck With Them. There is only one thing that would be worse than enduring the sound of the vuvuzela: That would be banning the vuvuzela.  Just because we Europeans have our own expectations of how a football match should be viewed, it doesn’t mean that they should be forced on the rest of the world.  This is South Africa’s World Cup, and god knows they’ve earned it.  World Cup 2010 should be a uniquely African spectacle and, much to my annoyance, this includes that giant dung beetle thing from the opening ceremony and the bloody vuvuzelas.   But we shouldn’t be downhearted about this; sometimes the most memorable parts of World Cups are the unique things that the host nations bring to them.  Mexico ’86’s wave, Argentina ’78’s ticker-tape, Italia ’90’s Three Tenors and USA ’94’s blank incomprehension about some sort of soccer-ball tournament going on.  Long after many of the matches and incidents are forgotten, these are the memories that remain.  And so it will be with the vuvuzela.  We will have to suffer it for a month or so, but in time it’ll be the thing that the tournament is remembered for.  We may even feel nostalgia for it.  Eventually.

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