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Soccer fans can now bring bagpipes to the stands of the Euro 2024 cup



It's a sound that may strike fear or annoyance into the hearts of rivals. This week, European soccer's governing body announced that bagpipes will be allowed in the stands at this summer's championships. Scotland fans are chuffed.

IAIN EMERSON: It's big news, and we're absolutely delighted. Tartan Army, the Scotland supporters, are over the moon.

SIMON: That's Iain Emerson, editor of the Famous Tartan Army Magazine. Germany is host of the games, and Emerson says that Scotland will need the lift.

EMERSON: We're going to be heavily outnumbered by the home supporters. You know, the Germans are going to have most of the stadium. So for us to be heard - we are quite a loud, boisterous support - but the bagpipes will help.


SIMON: European soccer banned instruments like vuvuzelas after 2010 World Cup in South Africa, saying they were a distraction, quote, "drowning supporter emotions and detracting from the experience of the game." Why do they deem that bagpipes aren't distracting?


EMERSON: Well, the difference is that the bagpipes actually play a tune, while some of the other instruments make loud noises - like horns and everything else is just like the one tone.

SIMON: Bagpipes are traditionally made of sheepskin, and as Benedick observes in Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing," is it not strange that sheep guts should hail souls out of men's bodies? So where Iain Emerson hears a tune, others may hear something closer to a bleat.

EMERSON: Some people do say that. And (laughter), well, it can be if they're not played correctly.

SIMON: And there is another old line about bagpipes - a true gentleman is a man who knows how to play the bagpipes and doesn't. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.

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