The organizing committee for Fifa South Africa 2010 is apparently split on calls to ban vuvuzelas, those idiotic plastic horns.

Sunday, one member of the committee offered a glimmer of hope, saying the organizers were considering the various complaints they’ve received.

But Monday, pompous FIFA president Sepp Blatter was all hurt feelings, inferring it was rude to even suggest banning the horns.

“I don’t see banning the music traditions of fans in their own country,” Blatter tweeted.

Leaving aside the obvious disconnect between the flatulent drone of the horns and “music,” the larger problem for FIFA is that the horns are an advertising nightmare for the BBC, ESPN, etc.

So mind melting is the overwhelming noise that viewers like Tribune sportswriter Pedro Velazco are watching with the sound off. Others less fanatical about soccer are no doubt turning the games off altogether.

At the risk of sounding completely parochial, I say ban the horns permanently from all future World Cups. There’s obviously no getting rid of them at this one, and that’s too bad.

Saturday against England, viewers missed one of the great auditory experiences in sports, the England national team fans. Win or lose, England fans love to sing. They love hearing their traveling brass band playing the theme from “The Great Escape.”

They probably howled with disappointment when the ball bounced off Robert Green’s hands. But we’ll never know. Everything was drowned by the vuvuzelas.

Monday it was the same for the fanatical Holland fans, and Wednesday it will be the same for the wonderful Brazil fans. The crowd atmosphere of the World Cup is one of its greatest strengths, and there is no atmosphere at this one. It’s dreadful.

Monday, another gentleman from the organizing committee, spokesman Rich Mkhondo, said of the vuvuzelas: “You find that they emanate from the horn which was used by our forefathers to call meetings,” he said. “As our guests, please embrace our culture, please embrace the way we celebrate.”

Thanks, but no.

As far as I can tell, the horns aren’t used to celebrate, to motivate or to protest. They are simply blown incessantly, regardless of the circumstances in the game.

Like certain Chicago Cubs fans, those blowing the horns don’t seem to be at the game to actually watch the action on the field. I suspect they’re simply there to party.

And Blatter’s statement smacked heavily of paternalism. We couldn’t possibly ask a respite from the 127-decibel drone, he’s saying, because the horn-blowers have a unique right to express themselves.

Too bad no one else at FIFA South Africa 2010 gets to do the same.


ESPN announcer Martin Tyler was spot on when he said opening games at a World Cup are usually marked by a fear of losing and tight, tentative play.

Not so Germany, which put on a wonderful show to defeat Australia 4-0. The young team, which didn’t seem to miss aging star Michael Ballack, strung together passes in bunches, flowed up and down the field, and reduced the poor Aussies to making desperate, lunging tackles. Aussie star Tim Cahill was dismissed for one such challenge.

I can’t wait to see Germany play Friday against Serbia (7:30 a.m. ESPN), the same day the U.S. should put the hurt on lowly Slovenia (10 a.m. ESPN).

Enjoy the games, with or without the sound on!

• Scott Smith and Pedro Velazco will pen sleep-deprived columns on the World Cup throughout the tournament.

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