Shareef Blankenberg
Shareef Blankenberg

Let’s blow our own vuvuzela

Recently, international soccer governing body Fifa decided to take a Cape Town company to court over their selling of key rings. The key rings are in the form of two ixilongo (plural for vuvuzela) crossing towards the blow ends with “2010” embossed onto a soccer ball. What’s worrying are reports of an inspectorate who will travel routes which teams and officials will use to and from venues to ensure that no advertising is done other than what has been sanctioned by Fifa. I just read a report today that Japan joined a line of other soccer nations asking Fifa to completely ban the vuvuzela during the 2010 Fifa Soccer World Cup tournament.

Our Parliament passed the Fifa Special Measures Act (Act 11 of 2006), after the government had to give some guarantees to Fifa. But in no way does the Act intend for Fifa to usurp certain powers, like they seemingly think they have. Look, I’m all for the protection of property rights but do they have the right, for instance, to tell us that we cannot blow a vuvuzela?

I have yet to see another country where they use the vuvuzela in numbers as we do. Also, no one in this world has any rights over the use of the year 2010. Must I be too afraid to say loudly that I will be turning 33 in 2010? And should I hide my son’s soccer ball until after the World Cup?

The Special Measures Act also gives Fifa some leeway with regards to security for the World Cup. But now they think they can take over our entire security system. They demanded, for instance, that the national police commissioner be accountable to the minister of sport and recreation. The way it would work is that the commissioner would be the top dog for operational planning in terms of safety and security. But the minister of sport and recreation would then chair a board (of three people) that could overturn certain decisions of the commissioner, effectively making the minister also responsible for police operational matters!

At the stadia, Fifa wants the police to secure the perimeter but no police officer will be allowed into the stadium. The security inside will be handled by Fifa-appointed security companies and stewards. And these could come from anywhere in the world. So there will be no sure way of ensuring that no criminals slip through the system.

I was overjoyed when Sepp Blatter announced that South Africa won the rights to host the 2010 World Cup. And I still think it is a good thing and could assist South Africa and our economic recovery. But is it right of Fifa to expect us to hand over the keys and leave house?

For one, I would love to stand outside OR Tambo International Airport with a vuvuzela when the Fifa leadership arrive for the opening of the World Cup. Not because I love defiance but to show that South Africans are not to be pushed.

Leave the vuvuzela alone, it’s ours. The rest of the world is just jealous because we have our vuvuzela and all they have are soccer hooligans!