English football clubs ban the vuvuzela
Football’s ‘instrument of hell’ does not get a warm welcome in England after the World Cup
Britain's much-maligned Health and Safety Executive are in the novel position of finding themselves riding a wave of popularity. Usually associated with the banning of hanging baskets (in case they fall on someone's head) and doormats (all potential fire hazards), health and safety regulations are encouraging an increasing number of British football clubs to ban the notorious vuvuzela from their stadiums.
During last month's football World Cup in South Africa the vuvuzela was, depending on one's point of view, a refreshing novelty, a symbol of African culture or, as one journalist described it, "an instrument of hell". Their incessant blowing by thousands of fans prompted a flood of complaints from television viewers and from players, among them Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo, who said it was hard to concentrate during matches because of the ear-splitting drone.
Calls for a ban during the tournament were rejected by Fifa President Sepp Blatter who welcomed the vuvuzela: "Africa has a different rhythm, a different sound," said Blatter. "I don't see banning the music traditions of fans in their own country. Would you want to see a ban on the fan traditions in your country?" What Blatter perhaps didn't know, or more probably chose to overlook, was that the vuvuzela has been ingrained in South African culture for all of 35 years, ever since the instrument was invented by a ten-year-old boy. In addition, 90 percent of vuvuzelas sold in South Africa were manufactured in China.
But with the World Cup over, global sporting authorities have moved quickly to ensure the vuvuzela remains a strictly South African tradition, despite the fact they are now available to buy around the world. Harlequins Rugby League team banned them from their London ground last month, and they were followed by the New Zealand Rugby Football Union for their recent Test matches between the All Blacks and the touring South Africans. Now European football clubs are lining up to declare that the vuvuzela won't be welcome at their stadiums when the new season starts.
German side Borussia Dortmund slapped a restraining order on the horn before the World Cup had even finished with general manager Hans-Joachim Watzke labelling them "horrid things... [which] completely drown out any chanting."
Tottenham and neighbours Arsenal were the first Premier League clubs to do likewise, with Birmingham City next to follow their example. A statement released by the club said: "The Blues can confirm that supporters will not be allowed to bring vuvuzelas into St. Andrew's on match-days. The club took into account feedback from both supporters and relevant bodies such as the Safety Advisory Committee and have made the decision on health and safety grounds."
And yesterday Liverpool, Sunderland and West Ham announced that they too won't be allowing the vuvuzela this season for similar reasons. A spokesman for the Hammers said: "Under the current health and safety regulations at the stadium, which already disallows musical bands, we would not allow them [vuvuzelas] into the stadium as they could be considered a weapon and could also be considered to be an annoyance to others."
While there might be a degree of truth in the Health and Safety excuse, some sceptics have wondered if the real reason that clubs fear the drone of vuvuzelas is because they will put off television viewers, which could in turn affect their revenue from broadcasting rights.
But whatever the reason for the growing number of bans, the majority of football fans will likely agree with the Sheffield Wednesday supporter who recently wrote on his club's message board: "If anyone sits near me with one of those next season it is being snapped over their head." ·
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