They came, the supreme exponents of this art form. Note, art form -- because that is exactly what football is.
They came, the supreme exponents of this art form. Note, art form—because that is exactly what football is. “The passing between Pele, Totsao and Jarzino is the closest proof of the existence of God,” a Brazilian journalist once quipped.
The Pharaohs dazzled us, the Spaniards showed us why they are the current European champions. Brazil was just Brazil. The United States — well, they are in the business of shocking us these days.
Then there were us, the hosts, South Africa, represented by our lads, Bafana Bafana. What this competition clearly demonstrated is just how bad we really are.
There is a team in Europe from Lichtenstein, a tiny principality with a population of about 32 000. They don’t have a league and always field a team of non-professionals—ordinary men with everyday regular nine to five jobs. They are the whipping boys of European football. Needless to say, they never qualify for anything.
We are worse than Lichtenstein. The game against Spain exposed us as complete amateurs. Our entry into the semifinals was dependent on Iraq. Come on people! Iraq was invaded by the US in 2002 and has remained a combat zone since. Millions of Iraqis have lost their lives. On average a car bomb explodes every two days there.
But they were our saviours. Like Lichtenstein, we have failed to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations next year. It is beyond any reasonable doubt that the only reason we will be participating in the 2010 Fifa World Cup Finals is because we are the hosts. You can’t host a party in a man’s house and not invite him.
But to say we did not feature prominently in this competition would be disingenuous. Failing to play any kind of football, we brought along the vuvuzela. This was our only contribution to the wonderful artistic spectacle that we witnessed in the past two weeks.
The other teams showed us art, passion and skill. They brought magic and genius to our country. We showed our appreciation by supplying a steady stream of indistinguishable noise.
Think about it. We didn’t scream the players’ names. There were no “ooohs” and “aaahs” as the ball came close to the net. If I come across as elitist, I apologise. What I’m trying to say is this: except as prolonged torture, the vuvuzela brings nothing to any human endeavour. None whatsoever.
I don’t have to be a scientist to tell you that the constant blast of indistinguishable noise can never be conducive to creativity. It sounded like party poopers had come to disrupt the Confederations Cup. It sounded like all the fans were angry with the referee or team or coach.
Maybe it’s the long-suffering South African football fan protesting at the clowns who run football in this country. Imagine sitting in an exam and someone was blowing a vuvuzela throughout. You would fail. Obviously.
Maybe that’s why Bafana Bafana are so bad. The fans in Spain, the US, Egypt and other footballing nations compose songs to cheer on their gladiators. Football fans from Nigeria and Brazil are always dressed colourfully, beating African drums and generally having a party. It’s musical, rhythmical, beautiful. We bring the vuvuzela.
I never personally saw Ace Ntseloenge play, but I have it on good authority that when that man had the ball, 60 000 Kaiser Chiefs fans would roar “Aaaaacccceeee”. Imagine that—60 000 people screaming your name or singing your country’s national anthem. Even I would score a goal!
I was there in 1996 and the vuvuzela was not. We took spare shoes to the stadium and whenever Shoes Moshoeu had the ball, thousands of shoes punctured the air followed by the huge roar, “Sssshhhoooeees”.
We even took pilchard tins and did the same when Mark Fish had the ball. We were part of the spectacle; we brought our uniqueness, our voices; we brought value and we created the atmosphere.
I remember being part of an 80 000-strong choir singing Shosholoza and lifting those boys to dizzy impossible heights. And you know what? They delivered! They conquered Africa!
It was painful watching Sepp Blatter on television having to defend the vuvuzela. He couldn’t denounce it. If he had, he’d have been drowned in screams of “Ke racism e. Hayi suka wena Blatter. It is our democratic right to blow i-vuvuzela!” What a pity. Otherwise, we hosted a very successful competition that provided fantastic football throughout. It proved without a shadow of a doubt that we are capable of hosting a memorable World Cup next year.
But Safa should spare us all blushes and immediately ban the vuvuzela at football matches. Those of you who cling to your democratic right to bring a loud and constant indistinguishable noise to the most beautiful of human spectacles—shame on you!
Next year the whole world will be watching us. We as South Africans can do much better than the vuvuzela. We are better than that. Let’s step forward, putting our best foot first — Hello, hello, hello? Is there anybody out there?