The vuvuzela, sometimes called a “lepatata” or a stadium horn, is a blowing horn up to approximately 3 feet in length. It is commonly blown by fans at football matches in South Africa. After the Confederations Cup FIFA received complaints from multiple European broadcasters who wanted it banned for the 2010 FIFA World Cup because the sound drowns out the commentators. On June 13, 2010, the BBC reported that the South African organizing chief Danny Jordaan was considering a ban of the vuvuzela during matches. Jordaan noted that “if there are grounds to do so, yes [they will be gotten rid of]” and that “if any land on the pitch in anger we will take action.” On June 15, it was reported that 545 complaints had been made to the BBC concerning the noise being made by vuvuzelas during coverage. BBC is reportedly considering an alternate broadcast stream that filters out the ambient noise while maintaining game commentary. A spokesperson for the ESPN network said it was taking steps to minimize the noise of the vuvuzelas on its broadcasts. There are some that see their use during the performance of the national anthems as disrespectful. Other critics have also noted that it is seen as disrespectful to be “dismissive of the cultures of the guest team supporters”. Some commentators have defended the vuvuzela as being an integral and unique part of South African football culture and say it adds to the atmosphere of the game. BBC sports commentator Farayi Mungazi said the sound of the horn was the “recognized sound of football in South Africa” and is “absolutely essential for an authentic South African footballing experience”. He also said there was no point in taking the world cup to Africa and then “trying to give it a European feel”. The debate below will focus on whether or not the vuvuzela horn should be banned at the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
South African World Cup Organising committee chief executive Danny Jordaan said in June of 2010: “I would prefer singing. It’s always been a great generator of a wonderful atmosphere in stadiums and I would try to encourage them to sing. In the days of the struggle (against apartheid) we were singing, all through our history it’s our ability to sing that inspired and drove the emotions.”
The vuvuzela is all about South African pride and culture. Silencing it would silence this culture and damage the sense of identity among these people. 26-year-old Hendrik Maharala of Johannesburg, for example, said to the Huffington Post in June of 2010: “I feel like an African when I blow the vuvuzela.”
“we should not impose Western values on South Africa. A ban would rob the tournament of part of its cultural identity, leaving thousands of locals perplexed: could you imagine being told by an international body that you could no longer drink beer at American football games, or fall asleep during baseball? The South Africans wouldn’t take too kindly to having a national institution removed.”
South Africa’s star striker Steven Pienaar admitted “When we were playing Colombia we couldn’t hear each other.” Other critics including Lionel Messi made this complaint.
Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo went on record to state that the sound of the vuvuzelas disturbed the teams’ concentration during World Cup play.
France captain Patrice Evra claimed that they performed poorly in a game in early June in the World Cup because the team could not get enough sleep. He said, “We can’t sleep at night because of the vuvuzelas.”
23-year-old Sazi Mhlwaitka said in June of 2010 for the Huffington Post: “It’s our way to motivate players.”
The sales of vuvuzelas are massive, amounting to many hundreds of thousands around stadiums and even in rural towns away from these areas for use in bars and other public areas. This is economically beneficial for the vendors that sell them, and a significant factor to consider in support of the vuvuzela.
Commentators have described the sound as “annoying” and “satanic” and compared it with “a stampede of noisy elephants”, an elephant passing wind, “a deafening swarm of locusts”, “a goat on the way to slaughter”, and “a giant hive full of very angry bees”.
In the course of a game without the Vuvuzela, one gets a sense of how the crowd is reacting to action, with excitement and lows being conveyed through collective voices ebbing and flowing. The Vuvuzela completely drowns this out, undermining one of the unique experiences of watching futbol.
Some spectators have also complained that vuvuzelas drown out other expressions of support, such as singing, chanting, clapping, and oowing and ahhing.
The vuvuzela is “putting people off of tuning in (will you honestly feel enthused to watch Slovakia vs. Paraguay knowing you’ll have to endure 90 minutes of the sound of an angry beehive going through a blender?).”
Some commentators have defended the vuvuzela as being an integral and unique part of South African football culture and say it adds to the atmosphere of the game. BBC sports commentator Farayi Mungazi said the sound of the horn was the “recognised sound of football in South Africa” and is “absolutely essential for an authentic South African footballing experience”.
23-year-old Sazi Mhlwaitka said in June of 2010 for the Huffington Post: it helps “express happiness and how do you feel in the stadium.”
A 21-year-old Jessica Dyrand said to the Huffington Post in June of 2010: “I love the noise.”
The vuvuzela produces much more noise than the human voice, and so conveys a much greater level of excitement. This produces a higher level of excitement and positive atmosphere at these events.
World Cup local organizing committee spokesman Rich Mkhondo told a news conference at Soccer City stadium: “Vuvuzelas are here to stay and will never be banned. The history of the vuvuzela is ingrained in South Africa. As our guests please embrace our culture, please embrace the way we celebrate.”
The vuvuzelas are so loud that they even make it hard to hear the commentators on TV that are trying to describe the action of the game.
Many TV viewers are very annoyed by the vuvuzela and mute their TVs in order to avoid having to listen to it. This significantly diminishes the viewing experience, causing viewers to miss the ebbs and flows of the emotion of the fans and the commentating.
TV stations are fully capable of moderating the volume so that the background noise of the vuvuzelas is reduced and so that the commentators can be better heard. This makes for an entirely appropriate viewing experience.