Vuvuzelas banned from Euro 2012, Champions League

The honking plastic horns that caused such an uproar at the

World Cup have been shut out of Champions League and European

Championship qualifying matches.

UEFA issued a ban Wednesday that prevents fans from bringing

vuvuzelas into the stadium at any match it organizes in the

continent’s 53 football nations. The governing body of European

football said it made the decision to protect the culture and

tradition of fans singing at matches from the ”negative effect”

of South Africa’s signature musical contraption.

”UEFA feels that the instrument’s widespread use would not be

appropriate in Europe,” the organization said in a statement.

South Africa’s response? A respectful rejection of European

values.

”We believe that UEFA has the right to decide what goes on in

their games, but we believe that they are wrong,” World Cup

organizing committee spokesman Rich Mkhondo told The Associated

Press.

”They should not be so rigid about the future ways in which

people like to express themselves,” Mkhondo said in a telephone

interview from South Africa. ”We will forever cherish the way

South Africans and Africans and even the visitors who came from

around the world embraced vuvuzelas.”

South Africa’s defiant stance was backed by FIFA, which defended

vuvuzelas as an important part of the host nation’s football

culture.

”I have always said that Africa has a different rhythm, a

different sound,” FIFA president Sepp Blatter said in a Twitter

message on the fourth day of the World Cup. ”I don’t see banning

the music traditions of fans in their own country.”

FIFA refused to ban vuvuzelas despite repeated calls from

players, who said on-field communication was lost in the din, and

broadcasters who feared viewers were turned off by the low-pitch

drone likened to a swarm of buzzing bees.

Yet the UEFA embargo follows bans issued by organizers of

basketball’s world championship and baseball’s Little League World

Series, plus most English Premier League clubs.

UEFA did at least acknowledge Wednesday that vuvuzelas have a

place in world football culture, if not Europe’s.

”In the specific context of South Africa, the vuvuzela adds a

touch of local flavor and folklore,” the organization said.

”(However) the magic of football consists of the two-way

exchange of emotions between the pitch and the stands, where the

public can transmit a full range of feelings to the players,” UEFA

said. ”UEFA is of the view that the vuvuzelas would completely

change the atmosphere, drowning supporter emotions and detracting

from the experience of the game.”

The ban will take effect when qualifying for Euro 2012 begins on

Friday, and when the group stage of the Champions League and Europa

League starts in two weeks.

European broadcasters, many of whom developed sound filters

during the World Cup to try to control the vuvuzela noise, will

likely be delighted by the ban. Valuable television rights deals

help to ensure that the Champions League earns more than ?1 billion

($1.28 billion) in commercial revenue each season.

The European Broadcasting Union, a Geneva-based umbrella group

of mainly state-owned channels, declined comment on Wednesday.

Vuvuzelas also have been opposed on health as well as taste

grounds.

FIBA cited medical advice when it banned them from the

basketball world championship, which is currently being played in

Turkey. It said the ”controversial instruments” emitted a

120-decibel noise in indoor arenas which could permanently damage

the hearing of players and spectators, and have a ”direct negative

impact” on the game by making it difficult for referees to

communicate.

In South Africa, Mkhondo pointed to the inclusion of

”vuvuzela” in the Oxford Dictionary of English as proof of a

global phenomenon.

”This World Cup will be remembered in many ways,” Mkhondo

said. ”One will be the emergence of vuvuzelas as celebratory

instruments.”