Controversial vuvuzela faces World Cup ban after players, fans and broadcasters complain about 'mosquitoes' noise
By Christian Gysin
Last updated at 5:39 PM on 14th June 2010
- 'Quieter' vuvuzela to be produced following complaints
- Ronaldo leads players' protests over match noise
- Sepp Blatter defends fans who blow 'horn of Africa'
- One in four England fans turned off by racket
- Internet download offers TV fans some respite
The controversial vuvuzela horns could be banned from World Cup following thousands of complaints from fans, broadcasters and the players.
South Africa's World Cup organising chief Danny Jordaan revealed his officials had been swamped by protests about the ear-bursting horns being blown during matches.
Mr Jordaan told BBC Sport the vuvuzela would be banned 'if there are grounds to do so'.
Fans split: Some England supporters have embraced the local custom, but others want the vuvuzela to be banned
He added: 'We did say that if any land on the pitch in anger we will take action.
'We've tried to get some order. We have asked for no vuvuzelas during national anthems or stadium announcements.
'It's difficult but we're trying to manage the best we can.'
But World Cup communications chief Rich Mkhondo today appeared to contradict his boss, insisting the plastic horns were here to stay.
He said: 'As our guests please embrace our culture, please embrace the way we celebrate. The history of the vuvuzela is ingrained in South Africa.
'As our guests, please embrace our culture, please embrace the way we celebrate.
'You either love them or you hate them. We in South Africa love them.'
Mkhondo said the vuvuzela was now an international instrument, and visitors were 'stuffing them into their suitcase' before going home from the World Cup.
Sepp Blatter also defended South African fans' right to blow their vuvuzela horns at World Cup matches despite global criticism from television viewers of the constant blaring noise.
Netherlands supporters blow vuvzelas as they cheer prior to the start of the Holland vs. Denmark at Soccer City stadium in Soweto this afternoon
A Germany fan blows a vuvuzela prior to the Group D match between Germany and Australia at Durban Stadium last night
'I have always said that Africa has a different rhythm, a different sound,' the FIFA president said in a Twitter message on Monday. 'I don't see banning the music traditions of fans in their own country.'
Blatter went on to ask: 'Would you want to see a ban on the fan traditions in your country?'
The growing controversy has prompted the company which makes the vuvuzela to come up with a toned-down version.
'We have modified the mouthpiece, there is now a new vuvuzela which will blow noise that is 20 decibels less than the old one,' Neil van Schalkwyk, a partner at Masincedane Sport, told The Star newspaper in South Africa.
'We hope to sell these at park and ride areas and public viewing areas,' added Van Schalkwyk, whose company owns the vuvuzela trademark.
Vuvuzela ear plugs on sale outside the Rustenburg stadium, hours before England kicked off their World Cup campaign
A recent survey found that the sound emitted by a vuvuzela was the equivalent to 127 decibels - louder than a drum's 122 decibels, or a referee's whistle at 121.8 decibels.
Vuvuzelas are modern spin-offs of traditional instruments made from spiralling kudu horns.
Van Schalkwyk said he decided to develop a plastic version after spotting the original versions of the horn being blown at games.
They are sold by vendors outside the grounds for the equivalent of £2.50.
The company says it had sold 1.5 million vuvuzelas in Europe since October in addition to the millions it has sold in South Africa.
Masincedane Sport expects the tournament will generate sales of up to 20 million rand (around £1.8 million).
South African shopkeepers have also reported a boom in earplug sales as visiting fans try to avoid the noise at matches.
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo was the latest World Cup star to voice unease about the trumpet, telling reporters that it affected players' focus.
MUSICAL DESCENDANT OF THE 'KUDU HORN'
The vuvuzela's musical ancestor is said to be the kudu horn (pictured) - ixilongo in isiXhosa, mhalamhala in Tshivenda - blown to summon African villagers to meetings, according to South African tourism chiefs.
Later versions were made of tin.
The trumpet became so popular at football matches in the late 1990s that a company, Masincedane Sport, was formed in 2001 to mass-produce it.
Made of plastic, they come in a variety of colours - black or white for fans of Orlando Pirates, yellow for Kaizer Chiefs, and so on.
There's uncertainty on the origin of the word 'vuvuzela'.
Some say it comes from the isiZulu for 'making noise'.
Others say it's from township slang related to the word 'shower', because it 'showers people with music'. Or, more prosaically, looks a little like a shower head.
The announcement, on 15 May 2004, that South Africa would host the 2010 Fifa World Cup gave the vuvuzela a huge boost, to say the least - some 20 000 were sold on the day by enterprising street vendors.
It's a noisy thing, so there's no surprise some don't like it. Journalist Jon Qwelane once quipped that he had taken to watching football matches at home - with the volume turned low - because of what he described as 'an instrument of hell'.
'It is difficult for anyone on the pitch to concentrate,' the Real Madrid star told a press conference.
'A lot of players don't like them, but they are going to have to get used to them.'
France captain Patrice Evra has blamed the noise for waking the team in their hotel and stopping the players from hearing each other on the pitch.
And Argentina's Lionel Messi complained they made it impossible for players to communicate on the pitch.
But England defender Jamie Carragher said he's been asked to take some back.
'My kids have been on the phone and they want two. I've got two in my bag already,' Carragher added.
The vuvuzela also secured support from the England Supporters' Band as the travelling musicians vowed to compete with the deafening sound of the vuvuzela.
The brass orchestra, which has not missed an England game home or away since 1996, promised 'the band will play on' despite the din of the South African horns.
Trumpeteer John Hemmingham, who is leading an eight-man team, said the plastic instruments were part of the local culture and should not be banned from inside stadiums.
Mr Hemmingham, from Sheffield, said the vuvuzelas would be a memorable feature of this World Cup and were overall a 'good thing'.
'It's the way the South Africans express their joy and pleasure at the tournament being here,' he said.
'It's certainly a challenge for us but there's no point winging about it.'
After England took on the US in Rustenburg on Saturday, football pundit Chris Kamara complained the noise was stopping fans from generating chants around the ground.
But Mr Hemmingham said: 'We didn't have any problem. The fans around us were all singing along. And a lot of our fans were joining in with us using their vuvuzelas. It all added to the atmosphere.
'There was definitely a different vibe about the place.
'The South Africans are loving it. And when in Rome, you just have to go along with it.
'I bet there is not a single South African player complaining about the vuvuzela. They see it as more than just a noise, it's about the whole spirit of the thing.'
He added: 'They have certainly created a great new market in ear plugs.'
Travelling England fans are subjected to the vuvuzela not just at the stadiums but also around town, early in the morning and late at night.
Mr Hemmingham said: 'You hear them when you land at the airport, you hear them in the shopping malls, and the streets are full of them - it's a 24-hour a day experience.'
But England fans at home are being turned off by the annoying buzz.
Research revealed six out of ten fans who watch games at home are now doing so with the volume turned down to cut out the incessant horn-blowing.
Loud and proud: An advertising board with a man blowing a vuvuzela is seen in Pretoria
One in four said the noise was ruining their enjoyment of the tournament and seven out of ten want the vuvuzelas banned completely from stadiums.
A string of vuvuzela tales also emerged from the study, including one old lady who rang her cable provider to complain about the 'loud buzzing' coming from her television.
Another pensioner called pest control in over the weekend amid fears her house was being attacked by a swarm of bees as she watched England draw with the USA.
It also emerged thousands of husbands have been asked to turn the volume down by long-suffering wives due to the infuriating hum which accompanies every game.
In the run-up to the World Cup experts revealed the noise from the vuvuzelas is similar to that generated by a chainsaw.
A spokesman for OnePoll.com, which carried out the research said: 'The Vuvuzelas are even more unpopular than Robert Green at the moment.
Should vuvuzelas be banned?
All polls Click to view yesterday's poll results
'They are incredibly annoying. Walking around the strees you can hear the buzz coming from people's houses.
'They really are spoiling the enjoyment of the competition for millions of viewers.
'Women are finding them particularly annoying and they are causing people who would have liked to watch games to avoid them because of the noise.
'One respondent said he had watched every game so far with the sound turned down.' OnePoll carried out the study among 3,000 fans via their iPhones.
Meanwhile, help could be at hand for TV viewers put off by the constant droning - an internet download promises to eliminate the sound from broadcasts.
Fans play the £2.45 MP3 file on their HiFi or computer while watching football and it uses 'active noise cancellation' to silence the horns.
The download generates a series of inverted sound waves that 'clash' with the waves of the vuvuzela to effectively cancel each other out.
Italy's Mauro Camoranesi (right) and Simone Pepe pretend to play the vuvuzela during a training session at Cape Town's Green Point Stadium
The download lasts 45 minutes - enough for one half of football - and can be put on repeat for the second half.
The website, antivuvuzelafilter.com, says: 'This is your chance to enjoy the FIFA World Cup 2010 WITHOUT the annoying vuvuzela noise!
'Get rid of the vuvuzela noise through active noise cancellation.'
For maximum effect, antivuvuzelafilter.com say their download should be played through a speaker placed next to the television and set to the same volume.
If done properly it should make the vuvuzelas 'so faint as to be inaudible to human ears'.