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A German official wanting to make the pronunciation of the African vuvuzela instrument clear to German reporters said last week: “Vuvuzela: it sounds like Uwe Seeler“.
This seems to be the only thing Seeler, the Hamburg striker who reigned supreme from the mid-50s to the early 70s, has in common with the African instrument that caused considerable controversy during the Confederations Cup in South Africa last month.
Seeler is a quiet, soft-spoken and reserved man while the vuvuzela makes a loud, monotonous drone that drove players and broadcasters crazy in South Africa. Many have asked FIFA to consider banning them during next year’s World Cup in the country.
Now a German firm has won the rights to market the instrument across Europe — “the original sound of South Africa” — and has ordered thousands of the little trumpets to be used by fans in the Bundesliga saying the vuvuzela craze will take off ahead of next year’s showpiece.
When the initial estimate of World Cup stadium costs was made by South Africa, it was set at some R2-3 billion.
That was at the time of the country’s success in winning the bid ahead of its fellow African competitors in 2004, some six years before the hosting of the 2010 World Cup.
So, the Confederations Cup is over and much of the pessimistic handringing beforehand proved unfounded.Despite some real logistical problems, the general verdict seems to be that the tournament was a success with enthusiastic and colourful crowds and some classy and unpredictable football, not least the United States’ shock semi-final defeat of Spain and a thrilling final where Brazil went 2-0 down to the Americans before storming back to win 3-2 and ensure the football world was not thrown off its axis.Crucially, South Africa’s own team, Bafana Bafana, did a lot better than many of their own fans had expected. The side suffered a lot of bad press from their terrible pre-competition form — they did not even qualify for next year’s African Nations Cup finals — and Brazilian coach Joel Santana had been treated with scepticism by football writers and fans alike. Even Danny Jordaan, chief executive of the organising committee for next year’s World Cup, expressed concern over their form. After a slow start, however, South Africa turned in a creditable, if not outstanding performance. They reached the semi-final and held eventual champions Brazil until the 88th minute when they went down to a scorching free kick by Daniel Alves. And in the third place final they pushed European champions Spain into extra time before finally losing 3-2, again to a freekick.They badly need more strike power and it looks like Santana must make peace with English-based striker Benni McCarthy who was dropped from the team for his apparent lack of commitment. But their performance gave grounds for some optimism.Bafana Bafana’s Confederations Cup performance was key to the 2010 World Cup because it will encourage local fan participation — a constant worry for the organisers, who expressed concern before this tournament about lack of home enthusiasm.Nevertheless, there are continuing worries that even the cheapest World Cup tickets are still too expensive for working class South Africans and that they will be unwilling to pay in advance for entrance in a year’s time, something which goes directly against the entrenched local custom of buying tickets on match days.World Cup matches attended predominantly by foreign fans and restrained, middle class South Africans would be a huge disappointment for the first World Cup held in Africa, where the unique local atmosphere was a major selling point.That isn’t the only worry in considering what the Confederations Cup tells us about the likely success of next year’s much bigger global competition.FIFA boss Sepp Blatter gave organisers 7.5 points out of 10 for the Confederations Cup but World Cup veterans said this was nothing to be complacent about, given his likely tendency to talk up the tournament. Even Blatter said South Africa had to do “a little bit more” and FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke was more direct, acknowledging problems with transport, security and accommodation capacity, which is still significantly below what will be required next year.Security is a particularly sensitive issue, given South Africa’s frightening reputation for violent crime, so it was unfortunate that the Confederations Cup saw alleged thefts from both Egyptian and Brazilian teams, although some of the circumstances remain mirky.More serious were security lapses in access to stadiums and other areas. Such failures must be cleared up in the time that remains if fans are to follow their teams without constantly looking over their shoulders.So the Confederations Cup provided both encouragement and warnings. Okay so far, but much more to be done. The next 12 months may be both nerve racking and frenetic for the organisers but we are all still hoping for a reasonably trouble-free football extravaganza with the special atmosphere that only Africa can give it–including those pesky vuvuzela trumpets…PHOTO: A South African fan at the June 28 Confederations Cup final REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
The U.S. were 2-0 up at halftime and threatening another major shock before Brazil stormed back to win 3-2 and seal the Confederations Cup.
Goals by Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan had Brazil in big trouble but Luis Fabiano took his tournament tally to five in five games when he scored just after the restart and equalised in the 74th minute. Brazil captain Lucio completed the job when he rose superbly to head home an Elano corner six minutes from time.
The Confederations Cup, effectively a warm-up tournament for the World Cup, rarely captures the imagination but fans in the United States aren’t lacking enthusiasm for the tournament after their team produced a major upset by defeating European champions Spain 2-0.
Goals from Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey ended Spain’s world record run of 15 successive victories and their 35-match unbeaten sequence, a world record streak they share with Brazil. That run has taken Spain to world number one in FIFA’s global rankings.
The noisy trumpet, which dominates the sound waves around the stadiums during the Confederations Cup, has got a lot of people covering their ears.
Is the fact that Brazil are Argentina’s next opponents in the World Cup qualifiers getting to Argentines worried by the precarious position of Diego Maradona’s team in the standings?
While Brazil enjoy more match practice at the Confederations Cup in South Africa, Argentina, their rivals in the 2005 final in Germany, are bickering over the pitch on which to host their arch-rivals in match that will have a major bearing on their World Cup ambitions.
from Left field:
The South African sporting public were a little underwhelmed by the early stages of the Confederations Cup and the British and Irish Lions tour but the last few days has seen a major turnaround and there is now something in the air.
Relatively high ticket prices combined with the Sprinboks' decision to keep their players out of their Super 14 teams combined to ensure the early provincial games were played against a backdrop of empty seats.
American soccer fans aren’t noted for their nastiness but the reaction to Giuseppe Rossi, New Jersey native, scoring twice for Italy against the U.S in their 3-1 Confederations Cup defeat on Monday has been surprisingly vitriolic.
What has upset U.S fans is that Rossi was born and bred in the U.S. but chose to play for another country and then — to add insult to injury — celebrated when he scored twice against his country of birth.
Matthew Booth stands out in the South African side. At 1,98m, he towers over his team mates and is also the only white player in the home team’s starting line-up at the Confederations Cup.
He is also very popular with the fans, the majority of whom are black, and who remember with particular affection the role he played as captain of the South African under-23 side when they beat Brazil at the Olympic Games nine years ago.