A simple $3 plastic horn is causing quite a stir at World Cup 2010 in South Africa. The “vuvuzela”, a horn blown by African fans at sporting events has drawn global criticism as players, fans and broadcasters have complained about the constant blaring noise. In case you haven’t caught any of the World Cup so far, the horns are blown non-stop throughout the game making a constant buzzing noise that sounds like a swarm of bees.
While the use of vuvuzelas has no doubt been heaviest during games involving African nations, fans from other countries at the tournament have joined to craze. While the noise only seems like a normal part of the atmosphere when watching on TV, I can only imagine how annoying it would be to listen to a full 90 minutes of vuvuzela in your ear.
The noise has led huge amounts of spectators to turn to “Vuvu-Stopper” earplugs. The annoying sound has led to unexpectedly high demand for the earplugs which supposedly can reduce noise up to 31 decibles. Vuvuzelas can record noise levels of up to 130 decibels, compared to the 100 produced by a chainsaw, and it seems many people need some peace.
Broadcasters who are covering the games live have also complained, saying the buzzing noise is drowning out the more natural crowd reaction noises that make viewers watching at home feel like they are at the stadium. ESPN has been altering the sound mix on its broadcasts to minimize the crowd noise, accepting that the vuvuzela is part of the atmosphere. Others have not been so accepting including John Leicester of the Associated Press who said, “The constant drone of cheap and tuneless plastic horns is killing the atmosphere of the World Cup.”
The complaining didn’t stop at fans and broadcasters. Some players and coaches have voiced their displeasure including France defender Patrice Evra who went just short of blaming France’s draw with Uruguay on the plastic horn. “We can’t sleep at night because of the vuvuzelas,” Evra said. “People start playing them from 6 a.m. We can’t hear one another out on the pitch because of them.”
While there were some reports that FIFA was considering banning the vuvuzela, official word from FIFA President Sepp Blatter said otherwise.
“I have always said that Africa has a different rhythm, a different sound,” said Blatter. “I don’t see banning the music traditions of fans in their own country. Would you want to see a ban on the fan traditions in your country?”
What it boils down to is, you either love vuvuzelas or you hate them. In South Africa they love the historic horn horn which was used by their forefathers to call meetings.
The vuvuzela is also turning out to be a big hit as a gift for World Cup participants and fans. England defender Jamie Carragher said he’s already been asked to bring some back by his to kids.