Saturday, Sep 20, 2014

FIFA World Cup: The noise of a nation silenced

The vuvuzela was a key feature in South Africa The vuvuzela was a key feature in South Africa
Written by Aditya Iyer | Posted: June 5, 2014 2:12 am | Updated: June 5, 2014 9:41 am

What is your overpowering memory of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa? Close your eyes and let the images come flooding back. Do you see Carles Puyol leap in the moist Durban air and head Spain into the final? Or are your memories more aural than visual? If so, can you hear the drone of the vuvuzela, the never-ending screech of the tuneless trumpet whose intensity ranged from blaring to bone shattering?

Before the biggest football carnival had descended on African shores for the first time in its history, many had wondered whether South Africa would host a World Cup worth remembering. Four years on, the sound of the vuvuzela still forces us to shudder at the soundtrack it leant to the event and perhaps even making us bless the souls responsible for making the migraine machines extinct.

Only, they aren’t extinct.

“If you thought the vuvuzelas were bad, wait until you here the caxirola,” said the Guardian in the lead up to the World Cup. Vuvuzela’s shorter and stouter Brazilian reincarnation, the caxirola looks like a hand-grenade, and is sometimes used as one.

Conceptualised purely for the 2014 World Cup by Carlinhos Brown, a leading Brazilian musician with a Oscar nomination to his credit, the caxirola is said to rattle more than hum and the ‘shakestick’ (filled with ball-bearings) was even blessed by Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff. The endorsements flew thick and fast, arriving unexpectedly from the Federal University of Santa Maria, who claimed that it takes 2000 caxirolas to produce the violence of a single vuvuzela.

Only, as it turned out, a single caxirola was violent enough.

With its hard plastic base and hard-shelled body, the caxirola turned out to be a perfect weapon in the hands of disgruntled fans. Introduced during a state final between Bahia and Vitoria in Salvador, caxirolas missiled down upon the turf at the end of the match, injuring fellow fans, players, referees and officials, causing its blanket ban from the Confederations Cup last year.

A research team concluded that if a caxirola were to be thrown from the top-tier of a stadium on to the heads of fans sitting below, it posed ‘an 80 per cent chance of physical risk to the head it fell upon.’ The research team perhaps patted themselves on the back, knowing fully well that they had just saved the world of harm — aural and physical. But those sighing in relief must know that the organisers aren’t the type to give up. Especially not when a single piece is set to cost $14 (approximately Rs 830) at the World Cup.

So FIFA got into a huddle and introduced caxirola 2.0 — plastic replaced by an inflatable rubber body with a padded base. Also, claimed a Brazilian newspaper, the finger loops were now soft plastic and cannot be used as brass knuckles. Satisfied, version 2.0 made FIFA’s continued…

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