Monocolumn: The Horns And The Dilemma

Monocolumn: The Horns And The Dilemma
Arts & Culture

Football is uniquely dependent on its fans. Without the soundtrack of groans and cheers, events on the pitch would assume a quality of supreme existential futility. Viewers of the 2010 World Cup have been denied these pleasures by the 

  • 15 june 2010

Monocolumn is Monocle’s daily bulletin of news and opinion. Catch up with previous editions here.

Monocolumn- The Horns And The Dilemma

Football, as a spectacle, is uniquely dependent on its fans. Without the soundtrack of gasps, groans and cheers, events on the pitch would assume a quality of supreme existential futility. And one of the joys of any international tournament is attuning to the rich variety of unfamiliar songs, chants and in-jokes.

Viewers of the 2010 World Cup have been denied these pleasures by FIFA’s 
decision to allow into grounds the vuvuzela – the plastic horn inexplicably beloved by some South African fans. The infernal din generated by these instruments has been a principal talking point of the competition so far –
 not least because, it seems reasonable to suggest, the enervating drone of the vuvuzelas has contributed to what has, at time of writing, been generally wretched football (Argentina’s Lionel Messi and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo have complained that the vuvuzelas make concentration a struggle).

It’s not just the players whose jobs are made difficult by the vuvuzelas. They also challenge broadcasters, who have to make their commentators heard – vuvuzelas have been measured at 127 decibels, as against the 100 or so generated by a chainsaw – without alienating casual viewers struggling through Algeria vs Slovenia.

“Reflecting the background and atmosphere is part of our coverage,” says a spokesman for British network ITV, “but we do have the ability to adjust the balance, as we do at any match.” He wouldn’t be drawn on whether and to what extent ITV have done that in this case. The BBC, for their part, acknowledge that they have turned down the “match effects” feed from the grounds to mute the sound of the horns.

FIFA can’t say it wasn’t warned – vuvuzelas blighted 2009’s
 Confederations Cup, also held in South Africa. However, FIFA president Sepp Blatter decided against banning them, concerned about looking like he was trying to “Europeanise” Africa’s first World Cup. This has been a common response of the vuvuzela’s defenders, who fret that banning them would amount to a colonialist extinguishing of a vibrant native tradition.

They’d have more of a point if the vuvuzela wasn’t unheard of (and mercifully unheard from) in South Africa until the 1990s, when it was developed by Cape Town plastics engineer Neil Van Schalkwyk – and if most vuvuzelas weren’t 
made in China, and if football itself wasn’t a colonial import to begin with.

There is nothing inherently colonialist about asking someone to cease making an irritating racket. International football tournaments are not usually regarded as an excuse for the host nation to flaunt the more obnoxious qualities of its fan culture: during the 1996 European Championships, England supporters were not officially licensed to bellow inane racist slogans and throw café tables at policemen.

Nobody would stop watching the World Cup if the vuvuzelas were silenced. But a lot of people are going to find a month of them unendurable.

Andrew Mueller is a contributing editor to Monocle

Monocolumn is Monocle’s daily bulletin of news and opinion. Click here to read more, or here to subscribe to the monthly magazine.

image by Dundas Football Club

Arts & Culture

Fitness Advocate: Paving The Future of Workouts With Audio

Fitness & Sport
Innovation Yesterday

After The Initial Success Of AR Gaming, What Does The Future Hold?

With Pokemon GO earning up to $10m a day, R&D departments are busy searching for the next phase

Arts & Culture Yesterday

The Next Great Art Movement Will Come At The Swipe Of A Finger

An improved app, optimized digital display and monthly art discovery service round out Electric Objects' renewed commitment to democratizing the art world


Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Automotive

See All
Retail Yesterday

A TV Streaming Service Is Designed Just For Kids

Toca TV is a new platform offering thousands of original and curated children's videos for a monthly subscription fee

Travel Yesterday

Bus Stop Transformed Into A Fitness Station For Commuters

Sports drink company Lucozade live-streamed an athletic trainer working out at a stop in Manchester to encourage travelers to get moving

Related Expert

Stefan Sagmeister

Graphic Design Guru

Technology Yesterday

Shiseido And Microsoft Have Created A Makeup Filter For Women Who Telecommute

The Japanese cosmetic company built an augmented reality app that works alongside Skype for Business

Mobile Yesterday

Samsung Is Using AR To Help Beachgoers Stay Safe

Pocket Patrol utilizes a phone's camera to promote beach safety and educate people about hidden hazards

Design & Architecture Yesterday

500 Plastic Chairs Used To Create A Recyclable Pavilion

Design agency CODA built a grandoise art piece from simple lawn furniture


Future Of Automotive
Scenarios Driving The Digital Transformation Of An Industry

PSFK Op-Ed october 24, 2016

Community Builder: How to Hack Slack

Claire Wasserman, Founder of Ladies Get Paid, describes how she's using an internal team communication tool to build a network of thousands

PSFK Labs Yesterday

The Keys For Exceptional Performance On And Off The Field

PSFK Labs' new report highlights five important insights for businesses to perform better than the competition

Retail Yesterday

Exchange Your Old Razors For New Ones At This Bartershop

The subscription-based shaving company lets customers trade their unwanted razors for Harry's brand steel at a temporary New York pop-up

Food Yesterday

A Brewer Has Created The Most Expensive Chips To Snack On

St. Eriks Brewery created crisps made from rare mushrooms to go with its artisan beer, donating all proceeds to charity

Op-Ed Yesterday

Marketing Experts: Millennials And The Power Of Cool

'Good Is The New Cool' Authors Afdhel Aziz and Bobby Jones share their 7 principles for branding with a social impact

Travel Yesterday

Melbourne Hotel Lets Guests Stay In Their Own Chrome Airstream Trailers

Notel is a luxury rooftop with six guest rooms made from vintage 1970s mobile homes

Infants Yesterday

Battery Powered Cradle Will Rock Itself

NoomiNoomi is a clever device that makes it easier to put babies to sleep

Sustainability Yesterday

Swedish Citizens Get A Tax Break For Repairing Old Goods

A sustainability initiative encourages people to fix, rather than replace, broken objects

Fitness & Sport Yesterday

How Precision Data Can Make Anyone A Better Performer

The Sports Debrief from PSFK Labs looks at how analytic tools are being developed to optimize human performance across all industries

Home Yesterday

You Can Now Buy Furniture From A Daytime TV Show

Home furnishing online retailer Wayfair is partnering with Lifetime to create a shoppable life improvement television program

No search results found.