Vuvuzelas: Tell ESPN If You Want to Hear Them or Not

A mall manager places a sticker forbidding the blowing of vuvuzelas in a mall in downtown Bloemfontein, June 15, 2010. REUTERS/Jorge Silva (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP)

So far during this 2010 World Cup tournament, the talking points have been more off the field than on it. While the players from the 32 teams have failed to sparkle thus far, most of the talk seems to be focused on the vuvuzelas – whether they should be banned or not, and how Host Broadcasting Services and other broadcasters have added an audio filter to suppress the noise from horn-blowing fans.

According to an ESPN spokesperson quoted in USA Today, “We do mix the audio for World Cup matches, just like we do for other events ESPN covers (NASCAR races, football games, etc). Our goal is to find the right balance of natural sound with the calls of our commentators. We do put a premium on the natural sound because it helps tell the story of the event for viewers at home. We have not asked FIFA to ban vuvuzelas. We believe they are part of the experience and the flavor of soccer in South Africa.”

The spokesperson added that ESPN has gotten some viewer feedback on the topic “but not an overwhelming amount of criticism.”

That’s probably because most TV viewers don’t know where to send their feedback about the vuvuzelas and how they’re helping or ruining the viewing experience. So, no matter what side of the vuvuzela debate you stand on, I encourage you to share your feedback with ESPN by completing the ESPN online contact form.

If you care about the vuvuzelas or if you hate them, make your voice heard by contacting ESPN today.

45 thoughts on “Vuvuzelas: Tell ESPN If You Want to Hear Them or Not”

  1. Just sent my message asking them to NOT “fade out” the vuvuzela sound. It’s a part of the South African culture and like it or not, it is a part of this World Cup.

  2. I just wrote to them telling them they are doing a great job. Keep the plastic horns – they mean “Game on”. You complainers are a riot.

  3. This is what I wrote and the response from ESPN

    ————— Original Message —————

    unfortunately the vuvuzelas are taking away from the atmosphere of the matches. We don’t hear the crowd. So we don’t get a feel for the ebb & flow of the match.

    PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE give us a mix that does not include those vuvuzelas.

    PLEASE, I beg of you.
    ANd I thank you in advance.

    Dear Michael,

    Thank you for contacting ESPN.

    We are taking a world feed for the match and are trying to make sure the sound doesn’t interfere with the telecast.


    ESPN Viewer Response

    1. Allegedly, there are technical options to take the noise (yes, noise) out of our living rooms. The voo-voo-zelas blow in “ais” tonality, and some TV-stations around the world use a noise filter already. Could you, too, PLEASE?

  4. Sent:

    They are overwhelming the matches and driving away casual viewers. The story is supposed to be about the game on the pitch, not the buzz in my ears.

    Best quote on the vuvuzelas, from Rick Reilly at

    “My god, they should take them into the mountainous caves region of Pakistan and play them until Osama bin Laden comes running out, screaming, “OK, OK! I give!””

    Now there’s a man with a plan. Implementation needed ASAP.

    1. Got the same response as F1Mikal.

      btw, my “Sent” was just the first two sentences. The rest is just me rambling.

    2. It’s amazing that you can’t focus on the match with the vuvuzelas…South Africans don’t seem to have that problem.

      1. Didn’t say I couldn’t focus on the match. Obviously, the buzz bothers some more than others. When it irritates me I just mute it. Some broadcasts have seemed better than others.

        However, in trying to get friends who are not so in to the sport to watch, their universal comment has been that they just can’t take it. So, in that regard, I think the buzz *is* overwhelming the matches and detracting from what is going on on the pitch. I don’t think that’s good for the WC or soccer in general…..but it’s not the end of the world.

        1. “However, in trying to get friends who are not so in to the sport to watch, their universal comment has been that they just can’t take it. “

          Yep, this is the real threat posed by the vuvuzelas, and anyone who cares about American soccer should take it to heart. The quadrennial World Cup is our best opportunity to advance the sport in this country, giving soccer a solid nudge as it brings in new fans, and the horns are hurting that cause.

          Folks who send complaints to ESPN should make sure to include this aspect. Tell them that you personally know of casual viewers who are now declining to tune in. That is far more powerful — and far more important — than simply saying “I don’t like the horns.”

  5. i called them yesterday after they permanently attached the jersey colors to the bottom of the scoreboard for Slovakia v New Zealand and Portugal v Ivory Coast.

  6. yeah. take away those vuvuzelas for us stupid westerners who are culturally insensitive and uncaring and don’t like being reminded we don’t always get our way and there are other legitimate ways of doing things even if we don’t like it. waaaaaah waaaaaah waaaaaaah.

    1. the world cup is about international unity and celebration of uniqueness and cultural identity……as long as you do things OUR way.

      1. That’s exactly the message South Africa’s putting out there.

        Can’t figure out which is worse – their taste in noisemaker or their team.

        1. Exactly. We all have to respect the South Africans right to express themselves in the stands, but they won’t do the same and respect the fans from around the world’s rights to make some noise for their own teams too. It sounds like SA are playing every game judging from the sameness of the crowd noise. No variation in atmosphere = the most boring crowds in history.

          1. Sing louder. I could hear singing during the Chile v Honduras match. People from tiny countries like Chile and Honduras can sing louder than the English or the Italians????

    2. “… there are other legitimate ways of doing things “

      This is called begging the question.

      And spare us the overwrought cultural-insensitivity claptrap. You seem to think “cultural identity” is some sort of automatic trump card here. You merely assert it, without explanation, as if it has some self-evident power to end the argument. It doesn’t. It’s actually just the beginning of the argument.

      If you’re so intent on pushing this democratic ideal, here’s some democracy for you: a massive majority of viewers around the globe wants the World Cup not to be ruined by a tiny minority of horn-blowers.

      I don’t know where people get this idea that because the World Cup is taking place in South Africa, this is South Africa’s World Cup. This is the world’s cup, and the world has a right to experience it the way it wants.

  7. Well done Uruguay. There were that many vuvuzelas out of the stadium by the time the third went in that you could actually hear the crowd cheer!

  8. All it says to me is that South African fans are too lazy/uncreative to make up songs to cheer their team to victory, so they just blow horns for the full 90 minutes making the whole thing sound like the noisy annoying little kids atmosphere of a U-21 match crowd.

    Anyway, doesn’t seem to be helping their team much does it? I would laugh until I died if some of the SA players came out with the excuse for not getting through to the next round (which looks VERY likely now) was due to not being able to communicate on the pitch because of their own fans noise! Poetic justice.

  9. I know, this whole thing sucks. South African soccer fans actually do have a very strong and unique way of enjoying the game. I it definitely is not what you see at the moment. Go to YouTube and look up “Bloemfontein Celtic fans” and you will be so pleasently surprised. Right now I’m a little confused about how we got to the point we’re at.

  10. Honestly the Vuvuzela sound is rather soothing. I would hate if MLS told the Sounders fans they had to make less noise or filter out sound. The sound of these horns are an african tradition and who the hell am I to tell them what to do at their matches. Singing at a match means you are a better fan than if you blow a horn? Of course not.


    1. Its not the south african league. We should be considered as guests for this tournament and most of us not used to this sound. Don’t you want to listen to fans reactions/ singing? I don’t mind listening to the vuvuzela for african nations’ games but its extreme to listen to it for the whole world cup.

  11. Yeah they need to ban those horns……not being able to hear ‘the referees’s a wanker’ chanted by drunk english fans has ruined the whole event for me

  12. Vuvuzelas = No new fans to the beautiful game.

    The World Cup is all about the atomosphere and fans of countries from all over the world cheering, singing, and celebrating. You can’t hear any of that with these freakin vuvuzelas. They have taken away the thing that makes the Cup such a great event.

    I fell in love with the sport during the 86 World Cup and one of the main reasons was the amazing atmosphere during the games. I’m afraid that because of the vuvuzelas this World Cup will bring very few new fans to the game. And that is the biggest shame of it all.

    1. I actually have people who pick up freight at my workplace (UPS) and I have converted them….Vuvuzelas and all. I even have some of them messing with me (as I cant watch the matches live only later on Tivo) about who beat who and the scores as they happen.

  13. Many “casual viewers” or “potential new fans” have enough negative, preconceived notions about soccer to use the vuvuzela as an easy out for not sitting and watching a match.
    Speaking for myself, the horns provide a great atmosphere and energy that adds significantly to my viewing pleasure. The sound echoes the way that I want the matches themselves to make me feel. The constant hum creates a feeling of great intensity and urgency, sometimes to the point of enlivening matches that, had they been played in the EPL, I would have found quite boring.
    I’m no newcomer or casual viewer, but if I were, I would be immediately intrigued by the sounds of the horns. The many thousands of horns command our eyes through our ears to watch with great anticipation the unfolding drama on the pitch.
    Also, any new viewer tuning in now will likely have been cued by the negative press concerning the horns to classify the sound as obnoxious, tuning out the sound as well as the match in front of them. The negative reaction of Western media and viewers to the vuvuzela is doing as much if not more damage to casual viewership than the horns themselves.
    I’d be curious to hear the opinions/ media discourse of the non-Western world concerning the horns. Africa, Asia, Central and South America…
    Also the opinions of any readers on this blog, or the bloggers themselves who I imagine might not agree with my romanticizing of the vuvuzela….

  14. The South Africa team is on the edge of elimination. I would love to see the home crowd come to their last game without the horns and sing for the full 90. It seems to be a nation that loves to sing, so lets hear it!

  15. The horns ruin the world cup.
    I run a cab business, and have many business and international customers as well as North American customers, and I have chatted with immigrants from Africa, Latin America, Europe, and Asia, as well as North America, about the horns, and the horns are almost universally despised, because they are annoying, and because they block out the ordinary interesting crowd sounds, and the ebb and flow of the crowd.
    They are not an African tradition, they are somewhat new in South Africa, and they are a health risk, louder than rock concerts or airplanes taking off. Doctors are advising against them.
    For those reasons FIFA should ban them.
    And there could be lawsuits against FIFA by people who have hearing damage at the stadiums. Let’s hope there are lawsuits, so FIFA bans them in the future.
    Or maybe some hooligans will do us a favorand throw them on the field, leading to there banning.
    If ESPN respected soccer fans, they would use technology to eliminate the crowd noise , and if necessary just show the games with announcers only. They have the technology to do that, and they should.

  16. Thanks for the link to ESPN. Just wrote a note asking that they encourage FIFA to ban these damned things. Not good for viewers, spectators, or the teams!

  17. Keep the vuvuzelas and ban the idiots who complain about it.

    In South America they beat drums throughout games. Very annoying if you’re there. In other parts of the world they use horns, drums, and other musical instruments during games. These are all expressions of each country’s identity. If you ban the vuvuzelas then you have to ban all other musical instruments from all games.

    If you don’t like it, use the mute button. I use the mute button when John Harkes is announcing since I cannot stand him. Do the same if you don’t like the sound of the vuvuzelas.

  18. The horns are not part of South African football tradition, they are just in the past few years.
    And the people complaining about them are not idiots, it is those that make excuses for the horns that are the idiots.
    There is no excuse for something so loud that it causes hearing loss, and they are far more annoying than drums, singing, etc. in a stadium. People who defend these idiotic one-note obnoxious horns are a distinct minority of football fans worldwide, and surveys show that.

  19. I have also read articles written by South African journalists, both Black and White, who detest those horns, and believe they make South Africans look like idiots, since those horns are not musical like other musical instruments, they are annoying one-note horns.
    Previous to those horns being in South Africa, the football fans sang and played actual musical instruments, and now, because of these annoying horns, that wonderful tradition at South African football games is gone. What a shame.
    Many in South Africa, as elsewhere, want the horns banned. They are not like singing or musical instruments, they are a dreadful.

  20. If England gets the World Cup I’m going to start a movement to ban Pukka Pies!!! I can’t stand their adverts on the screed during matches…they’re bloody incessant and quite unhealthy for the fans at matches.

    I’ve tried numerous times to initiate my friends to the beautiful game, but they’re so turned off by the pie adverts…they keep saying “What is with these damn pies…I don’t know how you watch this tripe!”

  21. Slightly different response from ESPN than other posts:

    Dear Efrain,

    Thank you for contacting ESPN.

    FIFA is now filtering the audio on the world feed that is provided to all World Cup rights-holders in order to reduce the buzzing of the vuvuzelas. ESPN continues to mix the audio through our own production efforts and we continue to monitor the situation. Thank you for your sharing your views with us.

    ESPN Viewer Response

  22. How can any of the football teams hear their fans cheering for them if the vuvuzela sound keep on blasting the entire match?

    This is the time where we can hear the cheering of mexican wave, the drums of japan and koreans, singing from england fans..etc..

    I really hope the south africans team will lose on the group stages. They will know that vuvuzela sound is cursed to them

  23. Cultural tradition? I think not. The Chinese manufacturers claim the invented it in 2001 tried to push it for the 2006 WC in Germany but the krauts were smarter and more classy. So they pushed it again for the 2010. And well Africans are Africans they like alot of noise, so they adopted it as a part of their culture. This is all pure and simple manipulation by the Chinese. Africans will believe anything you tell them.

  24. Exactly, it is not an African tradition. They are cheap Chinese made horns, they are annoying, they cause hearing loss. They should be banned.
    The people running FIFA are almost as dumb as the idiots with those one-note horns for not banning them.

    And ESPN hasn’t done that good a job of filtering out those horns. People are still watching the games with the sound turned down, if they even care about the games. It is disgusting how the idiot horns have ruined the world cup.

  25. Vuvuzelas are great. This is something new so why not embrace it. Why stick to the old ways. If we can avoid the health implication of it, why not have it. It brings an unbelievable atmosphere.

  26. Unbelievable annoying is more what the vuvuzellas are.
    And they will be banned in the European leagues, and at the next world cup, because they are a health risk, block out the natural ebb and flow of the crowd noise, the players hate them, because they can’t hear each other on the pitch, so it has an adverse effect on the play, and because most fans hate those idiotic horns.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *