Vuvuzelas banned from European soccer competition

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BERNE (Reuters) – Vuvuzelas have been kicked out of European competitions after UEFA said that the controversial plastic trumpets drowned out supporters and detracted from the emotion of the game.

The plastic horns became a hallmark of the World Cup in South Africa, producing a monotonous droning sound, often likened to a swarm of bees, which provided a backdrop for every match.

But they will not be allowed in stadiums in UEFA competitions such as the Champions League, Europa League and Euro 2012 qualifiers after UEFA’s ruling Wednesday.

“European football’s governing body has informed its 53 member associations that it has taken the move for reasons related to Europe’s football culture and tradition, saying that the atmosphere at matches would be changed by the sound of the vuvuzela,” said UEFA in a statement.

“The World Cup was characterized by the vuvuzela’s widespread and permanent use in the stands,” it added.

“In the specific context of South Africa, the vuvuzela adds a touch of local flavor and folklore, but UEFA feels that the instrument’s widespread use would not be appropriate in Europe, where a continuous loud background noise would be emphasized.”


The statement then continued with a clear criticism of the controversial instrument.

“The magic of football consists of the two-way exchange of emotions between the pitch and the stands, where the public can transmit a full range of feelings to the players.

“However, UEFA is of the view that the vuvuzelas would completely change the atmosphere, drowning supporter emotions and detracting from the experience of the game.

“To avoid the risk of these negative effects in the stadiums where UEFA competitions are played and to protect the culture and tradition of football in Europe — singing, chanting etc — UEFA has decided with immediate effect that vuvuzelas will not be allowed in the stadiums where UEFA competitions matches are played.”

The ruling appears academic as the vuvuzelas have shown almost no sign of catching on in Europe in the opening weeks of the new season.

The UEFA ruling is the latest development in an apparent backlash against the vuvuzela, although the word itself last month earned a place in the Oxford Dictionary of English.

Several English Premier League clubs banned the horns in July on safety grounds while they have also been barred from a number of rugby grounds in South Africa itself.

Olympic Games 2012 chief Sebastian Coe said he did not want them at the event in London.

They have also been banned from the current world basketball championship in Turkey on health grounds. FIBA, the sport’s governing body, said it was too loud, especially in indoor arenas, and fans who flouted the ruling would be kicked out.

(Editing by Jon Bramley)

Satire banned in Brazil ahead of presidential election

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Dubbed the “anti-joking law”, the relic of Brazil’s 1964-1985 dictatorship prohibits ridiculing candidates in the three months before elections.

Critics say the ban threatens free speech and is a blight on the reputation of Latin America’s largest nation.

“Do you know of any other democracy in the world with rules like this?” asked Marcelo Tas, the acerbic host of a weekly TV comedy show that skewers politicians and celebrities alike.

“If you want to find a bigger joke, you would have to look to Monty Python.”

Proponents say the restrictions keep candidates from being portrayed unfairly, help ensure a level playing field and encourage candour by those seeking to replace centre-Left President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Making fun of candidates on air ahead of elections is punishable by fines up to £72,000 and a broadcast license suspension.

Only a few fines have ever been handed out. But Mr Tas and others said TV and radio stations had been self-censoring their material in order to avoid the fines.

The law holds that TV and radio programmes cannot “use trickery, montages or other features of audio or video in any way to degrade or ridicule a candidate, party or coalition”.

Because the internet is not licensed by the government, it is not covered under the law.

But if a TV or radio programme were to ridicule a candidate online, a complaint could be judged by the supreme electoral court.

Fernando Neves, a former head of the electoral court, defended the law as fair-minded.

“A broadcaster cannot make jokes that make one candidate look bad,” he told the O Globo newspaper.

But Mr Tas advised Brazilian politicians to follow the example of US President Barack Obama.

“The growth curve of Obama’s popularity grew after he appeared on humour programmes,” Mr Tas said. “When you allow yourself to be interviewed or confronted with a critical opinion, like on my programme, you may take some shots, but you can show a more human side that the voters might like.

“Humour is nothing more than the exaggeration of reality. You can make an observation that is a caricature of reality that just may help people think about an issue in another light.”

‘We sell big knockers’ ad banned

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The ad by Tricketts of Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales showed the woman’s breasts discreetly covered by a pair of door knockers. The ad said “We sell big knockers…..Window Hinges, Door Handles, Window Handles …”

A woman complained to the Advertising Standards Agency that she found the poster offensive.

An Agency report said “A member of the public, who believed the poster was demeaning to women and unsuitable for general display where children might see it, challenged whether the poster was offensive.

“Tricketts said the poster had been on display for a little over two months and in that time they received positive feedback from customers, who believed the poster was humorous.

“They said they had received only one complaint and therefore did not believe the poster was demeaning to women or likely to cause offence to the general public.

“The ASA noted that the text ‘WE SELL BIG KNOCKERS’ was clearly a crude comparison between the woman’s breasts and the door knockers Tricketts sold, and that the image had clearly been chosen for that reason.

“We also noted the image bore no relevance to the products sold by Tricketts, a door and window installation company.

“We considered that the image and text were likely to be seen to objectify and degrade women by linking their physical attributes to the advertiser’s door and window products, and concluded that the image, in an untargeted medium where it could be seen by a general audience, and which bore no relevance to the advertised products, had the potential to cause serious offence to some consumers.

“The poster breached CAP Code clauses 5.1 and 5.2 (Taste and decency).

“The poster must not appear again in its current form.”