World Cup trumpets-curse or musical fanfare?

Tue Jun 8, 2010 11:52am EDT
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By Barry Moody

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - To foreign coaches and players they could be a curse, to South Africans they might yet be the secret weapon that helps them overcome one of the lowest ratings ever for a World Cup host nation.

The plastic vuvuzela trumpet has been controversial since the Confederations Cup last year, a World Cup dress rehearsal, when several players complained they could not communicate through the din, which sounds like a herd of charging elephants.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter rejected calls for them to be banned, saying they are as typical of South African football as bongo drums or chants in other countries.

They will surely be one of the more memorable aspects of this, the first African edition of the soccer spectacular.

Journalists covering warm-up games have realized they cannot communicate by phone over the noise and that is before Johannesburg's Soccer City stadium fills up for the opening match on Friday with 90,000 people, many armed with trumpets.

Thailand manager Bryan Robson said after his team's drubbing in a friendly by South Africa last month that he could not communicate with his players on the pitch.

But to Spanish musicologist Pedro Espi-Sanchis, vuvuzelas can make music and the plastic instrument virtuosos must only be coordinated to make a pleasurable sound.

"On television all you can hear is those rhythms mixing into a grey drone of the B-flat and that's what millions of people will be hearing during this World Cup. That is really what hurt me as a musician ... that is not Africa," said Espi-Sanchis, 57, an expert on traditional music.   Continued...

<p>A supporter of South Africa blows his vuvuzela during a training session of Germany's national soccer team in Pretoria June 7, 2010. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender</p>