14 June 2010
After the first World Cup weekend, you probably know what one is. The questions have moved on to ‘Is FIFA going to ban them before the World Cup final?’ and ‘How many baby girls are going to be named after it during the next month?’
I’m disconcerted by the honking noise. I’m resisting signing up to all the Facebook groups instructing the president of FIFA where to stick his vuvuzela. I’m afraid I’m probably not watching quite as much live football as I might have done.
Nearly a thousand Guardian readers have already commented on the paper’s latest vuvuzela article. Reading the first few, I wonder whether part of the problem is: vuvuzelas disrupt the genre conventions of what Europeans expect to get out of a football match.
Crowd noise in European football culture ebbs and flows. The chants swell when the attackers approach goal or one person on the pitch offends fifty thousand people’s suddenly-agreed morality. Some teams have their bands – a brass band known to accompany Sheffield Wednesday to every knock-out match; the Dutch equivalent which got stuck on Aida for all of 1998 – but not to the level of this wall of sound. Just going by sound recorded from the crowd, you could timeline the excitements of the match with a fair degree of accuracy. I can read a novel during a boring game, look up whenever the crowd signal I ought to be excited and never miss a beat.
With vuvuzelas blaring start to finish, nothing accompanies a change of pace. It’s like a murder novel with the bodies missing.
Yet: if a team from another and less equal continent came to a tournament in chanting Europe and complained the crowd noise distracted viewers at home, would they be indulged? No? Then we need to shut up about the vuvuzelas.
Besides, how many other stories like the striking, underpaid stadium stewards have we missed because we’re all het up about the plastic horns?