The World Cup with Ear Plugs

By Kristen Paquet: Account Executive, Leonard & Finco Public Relations, Inc.

Whether you are actively keeping track of the World Cup or just stopping every now and then to catch the highlights, you have probably heard a loud buzzing sound coming out of your TV. No need to worry – it’s not an angry swarm of bees; it’s just the vuvzela, the long, plastic horn that has been blaring without end since the first game began.

The vuvzela gives off a loud, buzzing sound that is just downright annoying and has been subject to a lot of criticism from all corners of the World Cup. It is interrupting the enjoyment of the games for fans both at the stadium and at home, coaches and players are having difficulty communicating with each other on the field and sport commentators are having trouble yelling over the loud hum of the stadium that never seems to end.

It has gotten so bad that hearing specialists have come forward saying that the loud blaring of the horns can actually cause hearing damage if a person is exposed to the constant humming for too long (it has a decibel level higher than drums). ESPN is working on a way to change frequencies for their broadcasts to help lower the background noise level and fans have said that the horns have taken away all spirit of the game, drowning out their singing and chanting for their team.

If you haven’t heard the sound of the vuvzela, check out this six second clip:


Now imagine that sound being constant not only during the entire game, but before it, on the streets after a game, and just about everywhere you go.

So will the vuvzelas be banned from the rest of the World Cup? According to FIFA (the International Football Association) president, Sepp Blatter, the answer is no. The reason? Because the vuvzela has long been a part of South African tradition and history, emulating a horn that was once used to call meetings to order. And the vuvzela is a staple at most South African sporting events, not just the World Cup. Blatter later tweeted: “Would you want to see a ban on the fan traditions in your country?”

So did Blatter make the right call, even with global criticism from fans and players? What would you have done if you were the president of FIFA? Listen to tradition or listen to the crowd?