The 2010 World Cup has effectively been rebranding as the Vuvuzela World Cup – for all intents and purposes, they are bigger than England’s dreams of fluking to another title, Italy’s paranoid delusions or the hype that Spain, Brazil and Messi have received in the last year or two.
It also brings home an interesting point about football matches, one that has repeatedly been raised since the influx of TV money and its influence on the beautiful game.
Is the television audience more important than the fans in the stands?
Yes and no. Matchday revenue for football clubs is still higher than the TV revenues they receive, but that doesn’t take into account the dozens of corporate football sponsorships the clubs are able to sell as a result of their matches (and by extension, their advertising boards, the team shirt and what not) being broadcast to a global audience.
TV money is a key driver of growth in the sport, be it improving standards of club football or spending more to improve fan facilities. And yes, to fund wages that seem outrageous to many football fans.
But fans are an essential part of the match, they are the atmosphere, the setting, the backdrop against which the match takes place. Not only the TV viewers would find watching a match with no fans in the stands weird, players regularly state strong fan support from the stands as a factor in their performances on the pitch.
The fans who watch the game live matter. There’s no getting around it.
The Vuvuzela – Please Don’t Try This At Home
Most fans traveling to the World Cup are buying them. So are the players (for their kids back home). It’s a great souvenir, a memento from a rare life experience, and a lovely football gift (until they flood the market and it goes out of style, fast). But it has little place outside the football arena, where it has become an integral part of enjoying the World Cup experience in South Africa.
It’s in stark contrast to the millions of fans watching the matches on TV, where even a 5-second clip of match highlights can drive you to hate them, where the constant buzzing can be mistaken for your phone getting an SMS (@andybrassell), where you explore every possibility to stop them and then some (@christoy) and where you even come up with the devuvuzelator, an audio plugin to ‘filter’ the low drones’ of the vuvuzelas if you’re watching the World Cup online (@geeksaresexy).
Whatever the case, we know this – this is the Vuvuzela World Cup, and admit it, if you were there, you’d be blowing it too.