Forget vuvuzelas, Russia hopes to stir up World Cup crowds with musical spoons
Move over vuvuzela players. The musical instrument to master for this year's soccer World Cup is the Russian spoon.
Eight years after South Africans blared away on their plastic vuvuzela horns when they hosted the contest, Russians are hoping fans at the tournament it hosts starting on Friday (AEST) will celebrate by clacking their "lozhkas" — spoons that beat out an insistent, but quieter rhythm.
Folk musicians using the traditional instruments — two wooden spoons held back to back and struck by a third — have already become a feature at official receptions.
Less-skilled supporters will be able to buy an adapted plastic pair, joined at the end for easier clicking.
Designer Rustam Nugmanov got government backing to produce a line of coloured and branded "Spoons of Victory" that have been recognised as the tournament's official instrument.
"When we were choosing an instrument which is typically Russian and which reflects Russian cultural values, we had a choice of three: a treshchotka (clapper), a shaker and a lozhka," he said.
They wanted instruments that could knock out a rhythm, without totally dominating the proceedings like the vuvuzelas did before them.
The plastic horns that fans used to blare out support for their teams first emerged at the Confederations Cup in South Africa in 2009, the year before the World Cup.
When the Cup itself started, the vuvuzelas caused such a racket that TV broadcasters were forced to turn down background noise levels during matches.
Complaints flooded in, but FIFA dismissed the concerns, allowing the controversial metre-long instruments to be used at games — except for during national anthems — and they also became a permanent fixture of nightlife in South Africa for the period of the World Cup.
Four years ago, the tournament was hosted by Brazil, and a new noisemaker emerged — a shaker called the "caxirola".
This time round, organisers also wanted to avoid the shattering rattling produced by the Brazilian percussion instruments as the world's biggest football carnival heads to Russia.
"That [the caxirola] sounds like a beehive and is a very loud instrument and also does not allow you to clap a rhythm," Nugmanov said.
"We have chosen spoons."
The big question is how much sound will be created if all 81,000 people at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow are wielding spoons for the World Cup final on July 16 (AEST).
It could be something special. Or terrifying. Or both.