Armchair Pundit

Vuvuzelas: Mad, bad and dangerous?

Alex Chick

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The crackdown has begun in earnest. Yesterday Tottenham
Hotspur became the first Premier League club to ban vuvuzelas, and this morning
Arsenal followed suit.

The Gunners made the announcement via an article on their
website cheerily entitled: 'Vuvuzelas not welcome
at Emirates Stadium!'

'This decision
has been taken to ensure the enjoyment and safety of supporters on matchdays,
which is of paramount importance to the club,' intoned a club statement.

They illustrated the edict with a picture of a South
African fan tooting away on the offending horn. No fun for you, Sir!

This despite the fact the man was clearly going
about his business safely and while enjoying himself immensely.

And he was doing it at the World Cup. The biggest
event in football. You may have heard there were one or two vuvuzelas there. They
didn't compromise safety one iota. Yet when brought to these shores the things
became a hazard of almost unimaginable proportions.

Either the reasons for banning vuvuzelas are
entirely disingenuous, or English football clubs have disappeared en masse up
their own backsides. It's a tos-up.

Tottenham cited discussions with the police and
fears the tannoy could be drowned out, but since when did announcements that
the owner of a V-reg Cavalier has left his lights on represent vital listening?

In any case, it's a sad state of affairs if you're
worried about the crowd being too loud. Why not ban cheering altogether?

It would certainly avert those occasional
catastrophes when the home team scores as the attendance is read out. Thirty-eight
thousand, two hundred and... we may never know. Tragic.

Preston North End recently outlawed them, with the
club's safety officer
David Asbridge arguing:

"At Preston North
 I have gone with
having no vuvuzelas in Deepdale on the grounds that it may cause problems with
fans objecting or experiencing hearing damage.

the vuvuzelas could distract the stewards from ensuring the health and safety
of the fans. The enormity of the sound created by the instruments could cause
problems when hearing for instructions or receiving radio messages."

So they are safe for Soccer
City but too dangerous
for Deepdale? Nonsense.

But the health and safety jobsworths are just the
hatchet men for a crackdown based entirely on money.

Vuvuzelas are a big turn-off for fans inside the stadium and, crucially, those watching on TV.

The BBC and ESPN both toyed with the idea of a
vuvuzela-free audio feed during the World Cup, which tells you just how much of
a turn-off the things are to viewers.

Football clubs think vuvuzelas could hurt their
television audiences and cost them money. That is the real reason.

I was happy to have the things blaring away during
the World Cup, but was petrified they would take over in Europe.

I'm pleased clubs are banning them, but wish they
would be honest about it.

They could take a leaf out of Dana White's book.
The president of UFC (a mixed martial arts series) had this to say on outlawing
the things:

"This decision was
pretty simple for me. Vuvuzelas make the most horrific sound I've ever heard.
I'd rather let Brock (Lesnar) punch me in the face than hear 15,000 people blow
on those things."

And that is the point. They are a pain. Simple as that. Why not just say so?

It would have been horribly imperialistic for
FIFA to storm into South
Africa and ban the locals from using their
preferred noisemakers, particularly when they obviously pose no safety risk
other than being a bit loud.

But taken away from their natural habitat they
just become irritating plastic tubes, a pest to rank alongside laser pens and
N-Dubz ringtones.

Ban them, and don't pussyfoot around. Don't
couch your interdiction in the language of health and safety. Just get rid of
the things.

Of course, you can bet your bottom dollar some
clubs will go the other way. How better to boost the noise level of a
half-empty stadium than with the inescapable din of a million dying bees?

My money is on Wigan or Bolton
to become the Premier League's first vuvuzela haven.

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