In defence of the vuvuzela and against cultural homogeneity in football.

Ever since the Confederations Cup started, the vuvuzela has been a source of controversy for some inexplicable reason. So many people think they should be banned and while this came up as a point of discussion for 2010 prior to the beginning of the Confederations Cup, FIFA said it would not be banned if they were not  used as weapons or projectiles. However, because there has been complaints from media, foreign spectators and footballers, FIFA might have to revisit the issue.

I must respectfully disagree on the arguments for banning the vuvuzela. FIFA takes a risk every four years in granting nations host status but they have to accept that each nation is different and will inevitably bring to the global stage new additions to our vernacular football culture. The vuvuzela is one of them, and distinctly South African. While the vuvuzela was developed later on in South African sporting history, it is no less culturally significant for South African football fans, as evidenced by its heavy presence in the stadium, a fun, cheap way for the fans to show their loyalty toward their teams.

We are unfamiliar with the stadium traditions developed within South African football, which is why we find this novel and “annoying”. I am sure that after a while, we will all tune it out. It will just become another part of the roar of the stadium, which will undoubtedly be full for the 2010 World Cup, unlike the current tournament, which brings in less tourists, tourists who seem to be the only ones who can afford tickets to fill the stands. During the Confederation Cup, the sounds of these trumpet-like noise-makers resonate far more due to the less full stadiums, less full because in some areas of South Africa, the prices of the tickets far exceed the financial capacity of the average local.

As for what Xabi Alonso said, while I respect Alonso as a player, I think a large part of his professional duties include playing under circumstances which he would not find ideal. I doubt the presence of vuvuzelas will outwardly negatively hamper the players’ performances.

One possible solution would be to have the stadiums distribute vuvuzelas, a few hundred per section, to the first n-spectators to arrive, and not allow spectators to bring in their own. This would limit the amount of vuvuzelas within the stadium thereby lowering the “noise” level without entirely banishing them from the World Cup.

I think this South African contribution is important to the global culture of the sport and adds something unique to the atmosphere of matches. Banning them outright would take away from the right of a host nation to at least impart some of their flavour on the international scene, for better or for worse. This would turn 2010 into another generic mega event–dominated by rich western nations with economic capacity to spend on sport development, of which, for better or for worse, FIFA is mostly accountable–which is only renting out a home on south African soil.

I have to agree with crazy old Sepp Blatter on this one. The rules of modern day football was created in Western Europe. Thanks to globalisation and, dare I say it, colonialisation, the spread of football by both migrant workers and colonisers, a combination of high and low culture, has reached the four corners of the world, and is still everpresent, which illustrates the appeal throughout all cultures. Each footballing nation has developed their own footballing style, both on the pitch and off of it. Just because we don’t understand it, does not mean it is not beautiful, and in the case of the vuvuzela, does not make it any less of a  football experience.

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