Whether you’re new to the World Cup or you’re taking in your tenth finals, you’re sure to have noticed the incessant drone at matches this past weekend from the stadium horns known as vuvuzelas that are so common in South Africa. Love them or hate them, it seems the vuvuzela, or lepatata is as much apart of football in South Africa as crowd songs are in England or hot dogs are in American baseball. Is the vuvuzela really ruining the World Cup experience across the globe? They seem to be here to stay for the remainder of the tournament, or will they?
Before you make up your mind on the vuvuzela, let’s look at the positives and negatives of what I like to call the plastic bee. On the negative side, besides the obvious, reports have surfaced from players who’ve said that they’re unable to hear other players on the pitch. If this is to be believed, could the vuvuzela somehow effect the outcome of an important match? The swarm of bees-like drone has overpowered national anthems, fan songs and chants, and has been a major distraction and annoyance for commentators and millions watching on television across the world.
Major Television broadcasters have spent millions of dollars to bring unprecedented coverage of the tournament to the masses only for their investment to be potentially buzzed out by the horns that only seem to get louder as matches progress. If lower than expected viewership and TV ratings surface at the end of the tournament, will the vuvuzela become a vilified entity in the annals of history outside of South Africa?
Earplug sales in South Africa are rumored to be high as fans attending matches are becoming increasingly concerned with hearing damage and or hearing loss. A potential ban of the vuvuzela is no new thing. After last years Confederations Cup in South Africa, FIFA was flooded with thousands of emails from fans pleading with soccer’s governing body to ban the horn for this summer’s World Cup. It seems as if the emails fell on deaf ears.
So what positives can be taken from such an over-powering sound? According to FIFA, the vuvuzela is said to be too entrenched in the culture of South Africa to even consider a serious ban. And isn’t accepting a different culture what the World Cup is all about? How would the English or other European countries feel if outsiders protested against crowd songs or the removal of banners at matches?
For now it looks as if the vuvuzela is here to stay unless it poses some form of health risk, i.e., if fans attempt to throw them on the pitch or use them as weapons. The plastic horn means too much to the South African people and their culture for FIFA to swoop in and take them away from the fans who have represented themselves so brilliantly thus far.
Viewers in the UK may soon have a reprieve of the noise within the next few days. Due to hundreds of complaints, the BBC is considering an option that would allow match viewers to mute ambient background noise while still being able to hear match commentary. The option would allow viewers to press a button on their remote and receive a quieter version of the broadcast on a different channel. The alternate channel may not be a bad compromise for viewers who can take the noise no longer.
Regardless of your opinion, the majority of us better get used to the buzz for the next month if we plan on watching more matches simply because it seems FIFA refuse to take the controversial step of banning the horn. If you hate the vuvuzela, leave a comment below explaining why FIFA should ban them. If you don’t mind the bee-like buzz and think it adds to the experience in South Africa, defend FIFA’s decision to allow them at matches.
Contact Jesse on Twitter @JesseChula
Meanwhile, if you want to let ESPN know how you feel about the vuvuzelas, whether you love them or hate them, find out more information about how to contact ESPN.