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June 14, 2010

Ban on vuvuzelas will not be considered

By Andrew Warshaw, Johannesburg

No more discussion, no more debate. If you can't stand them, turn the sound down. Mexican drums may be banned but those multi-coloured plastic trumpets - loathed by some, adored by others - are here to stay.

FIFA won't ban vuvuzelas.

• Moonda: Ban the vuvuzela
• Jordaan won't rule out ban

Nothing has generated more controversy at the World Cup so far than vuvuzelas. Supporters claim they form an integral part of African culture and this is, after all, Africa's World Cup.

Critics respond that they drown out all the usual sounds associated with football - the oohs and aahs, the singing and chanting - and are detrimental to the game.

For 24 hours, World Cup CEO Danny Jordaan, the public face of the tournament, had the world thinking we might have seen the last of the horn-like instruments and their constant piercing din resembling an angry swarm of wasps.

Jordaan, when asked in an interview if he would get rid of them, answered: "If there are grounds to do so, yes. We did say that if any land on the pitch in anger we will take action."

French skipper Patrice Evra has already blamed the noise generated by the vuvuzelas for his side's poor showing in their opening group game against Uruguay, which finished goalless.

"We can't sleep at night and we can't hear one another out on the pitch," said the Manchester United full back.

Commentators and broadcasters have complained they can't hear themselves speak and Jordaan conceded that he would ideally prefer the kind of singing associated with games in Europe and with South Africa's struggle against apartheid.

As long ago as this time last year, Spanish hotshot Fernando Torres complained about vuvuzelas at the Confederations Cup and Jordaan's comments were viewed in some quarters as a timely death knell for the things. Not so. Just the opposite in fact according to organising committee spokesman Rich Mkhonda.

Putting the record straight, he stressed on Monday that Jordaan's quotes were conditional upon vuvuzelas being used for any other purpose than blowing. "They characterise this World Cup, just like other World Cups like in Mexico had their own way of celebrating," Mkhonda said. "Vuvuzelas are here to stay and will never be banned. Their history is ingrained in the history of South Africa."

Yes, but what about the 80-year history of the tournament? Don't the majority of teams, non-African countries who have played in the World Cup for decades, deserve better treatment, let alone the billions of armchair fans watching on television?

Again Mkhonda refused to yield. "If you go back in history, vuvuzelas emanate from the horns used by our forefathers to call meetings. It's a way for fans to express themselves, and not just football fans. rugby fans embraced the vuvuzela at the recent Super 14 and I wouldn't be at all surprised if they are used in cricket in the future."

You must be joking. The prospect of a five-day Test match being accompanied by the screeching din of vuvuzelas is too far-fetched to contemplate. Mkhonda insists they are no longer a domestic phenomenon, however, pointing to the thousands of Dutch and Danish fans blowing their horns in Johannesburg on Monday. "We don't believe people are losing out in terms of other expressions of support. Besides, let's not make the vuvuzela a purely South African instrument any more. People buy them and stuff them in their suitcases to take home. The debate will never end. You either love them or hate them - and we love them."