Saturday, Oct 25, 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 list of 10-must-haves at the World Cup, carrying in its belly the organisers’ official seal.

But percussionist Brown, who created the instrument to ‘recreate the sounds of nature and of the sea’ is annoyed. “When I see this instrument sold for $14, I think it’s a bit absurd,” he told the Wall Street Journal. “Maybe it’s not an instrument that’s good for the World Cup.”

Too late Mr Brown. For FIFA are rattling it from the rooftops. Close your eyes now and you can almost hear it, somewhere in the not-so-distant future. But don’t keep those eyes shut for too long, for it could thunder down on your head with an 80 per cent chance of causing physical damage.

FIFA Ranking: 4

Betting  Ranking: 1

elo Ranking: 1

COACH: Luiz Felipe Scolari

star PLAYERS: Neymar, Oscar, David Luiz, Ramires

BrazilIn

The Brazil World Cup’s answer to the vuvuzela was invented by Oscar-nominated Brazilian composer Carlinhos Brown . Unlike the vuvuzela, it doesn’t sound like a swarm of bees. Also, unlike the vuvuzela, it will not be seen inside a stadium.

* The caxirola is composed of plastic produced from Brazilian sugar cane ethanol and filled with small plastic particles. “Caxirola” is pronounced, ka-shee-role-ah.

* Whereas the vuvuzela has cultural and historical significance in South Africa, the caxirola was invented specifically for the World Cup, with the brief that it should be less annoying than the vuvuzela, and quieter.

* While the vuvuzela blares at 127 decibels , not much lesser than the sound of a gun shot, the caxirola’s rattle measures a sedate 80 decibels.

* The caxirola had a inauspicious debut. They were given to fans at a Brazilian national game in April 2013. However fans from the losing team ended up hurling them onto the field. Unfortunately the caxirola is made of rigid plastic and has the potential to cause a head injury if thrown with sufficient force or lobbed from a very high seat in the bleachers. They were also remarkably aerodynamic. There were so many caxirolas on the field, they had to suspend the game.

* While no one was hurt, FIFA, nevertheless banned the caxirola from the Confederations Cup in Brazil the same year. Federal officials in Brazil have now banned caxirolas from all 12 of the Brazilian football grounds where the World Cup matches will be played – for “safety reasons”.

* In order to deal with some of the drawbacks, the caxirola 2.0 is currently being tested. The new noisemaker is inflatable rather than rigid and has a soft padded base. Also, the finger loop is now soft plastic and cannot be used as a brass knuckle.

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