South Africa: The Vuvuzela World Cup Debate

Perhaps the defining sights to date of the 2010 World Cup have been the sparkling new stadiums or the colorful costumes worn by fans of each of the 32 competing nations. Without a doubt, the defining sound of the tournament has been the droning sound of the vuvuzela, which can be heard by spectators attending the games or by the television viewer. The notable sound has sparked a debate whether the vuvuzela adds or takes away from the World Cup experience.

For local South African football fans, the vuvuzela has been a natural part of the conduct of watching a match, and wonder what is the fuss. However, for international visitors and viewers the sound of the plastic instrument has been a novelty.

Photo of Vuvuzela at Soccer City by alvez and used under a Creative Commons license.

This debate dates back to the 2009 Confederations Cup held in South Africa, which may have been the first exposure to the sound for many global football fans. Some called for the vuvuzela to be banned from the stadium by those who said that it took away from the enjoyment of the game. FIFA President Sepp Blatter, however, gave his full backing to allowing the use of vuvuzelas at the 2010 World Cup. He said, “we should not try to europeanise an African World Cup.

Now, just days into the tournament, it has become a topic on the internet by those who complain about it, as well as those who defend the instrument, and even by those who criticize those grumbling about the vuvuzela. Even though there are some reports that FIFA may look into restricting the vuvuzela due to television complaints, many feel that it will continue on.

Syrian twitterer Anas Qtiesh compares the sound to that of a swarm of insects and writes, “we need to fumigate the stadium, the bee situation is getting out of hand.” Several Twitter accounts are appearing to encourage more complaints about the vuvuzela: @stopvuvuzela, @vuvuneela, and @vuvunee.

There were others quick to defend the football tradition in South Africa. Michelle Sibanda (@pinkminx36) writes:

The vuvuzela is part of our country's heritage…so NO we wont stop blowing it and you can complain till the cows come home!!!”

The criticism about the buzzing sound of the vuvuzela proved to be quite humorous for some, who turned around to make light of their complaints. Daniel Reeders (@onekind) stated:

Western world discovers Africa, discovers it to be loud, discordant, overwhelming, and retires to twitter to complain #vuvuzela

Finally, Karabo Harry (@kayrabH) puts it all into perspective by offering a suggestion:

If the sound of the #Vuvuzela irritates you get #EarPlugs & complain about beeger things like #Illiteracy & #Poverty.


  • Tom

    …or maybe the TV broadcasters could add a filter for the “low” sounds of the vuvuzelas… that would be the simplest solution, and most would be fine with that…

  • Harry

    Japan score 1,cameroon 0 bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.Japan nearly score again bzzzzzzzzzzz,vuvuzelas,vuvuzelas yeah!!!!!!!….bzzzzzzzz…hey my ear is bleeding bzzzzzzzzzzz,bzzzzzzzzz….stupid,harmfull nonesense.There is some genuine fan in SA who really cheer,feel for their team but for vuvu fan it the same,their could be a bomb in the stadium bzzzzzz (we are happy blow us up)bzzzzzzzzz.(our team is losing)bzzzzzz,vuvuvuvuvuvuuvuvuvuuvuv.Stupidoooooooooo.Japan player (nikotikakuku nearly brake Eto leg with a ugly tackle,it ok!bzzzzzzzzzzzzz,ZZZZZZZZ.We going to shoot the shout african player bzzzzzzzzzz.Where is the passion?Culture this,culture that…If RAPE was cultural whould u alow it…Bzzzzzzz,bzzzzzzzz,she begging for her life bzzzzzzzzzzzz,ha,hahahahahahahhhahahha…VIVA STUPIDOOOO!!!!

  • Phil Kennedy

    I was quite looking forward to this World Cup and pleased for South Africa.
    This Vuvuzela thing has ruined the whole thing for me so far.
    South African pomposity in the face of complaints about them is doing a lot of damage to the views of South Africa to world wide supporters.
    OK you can’t ban them
    But stop this crap about it being “racist” or that utter drivel by Solana Larsen (what a pile of sheer tripe)
    Its a WORLD Cup.
    About time South Africans woke up to this fact

  • Voice of Truth

    If this, this vuvuzela, is your culture, then your culture sucks. Not all cultures are equal.

    There is no crowd, no chants, no excitement, just awful buzzing. South Africa is really dissapointing if this is what they bring to the table.

  • Franco

    I don’t like the vuvuzela one bit, but I don’t think FIFA will ban them.

    2 points;
    Someone will sue FIFA for hearing loss.
    South Africa will never hold another major footballing tournament, unless they promise vuvuzela ban. It’s harmed their position.

  • […] World Cup is all of six days old and already the controversy rages. Not over the best team, the most skillful player, the biggest disappointment, or the prettiest […]

  • Mr. Mosgo

    Glad to hear the horns are not a nuisance for those fortunate enough to be able to attend the matches in person. For the millions whose only option is to watch the games on TV, the sound could be compared to the buzzer alarm you use to wake up. This sound which drones on and on through the whole match with very little variance in level, is what people are finding so frustrating. I’m sure if it increased and decreased with the play on the field the complaints would be nearly non-existent.

  • Ross

    I can’t stand them anymore. All I hear when I’m watching the WC is a bloody bee hive. Never thought I’d mute the WC, or any other sporting event for that matter, but the noise is getting unbearable. It’s just sad. Easily the worst WC I’ve had to watch.

  • […] where you get much more feel of it. Had I been there I wouldn’t have the slightest idea what a Vuvuzela is, and how bad I feel for Mr. Eto’o now that Cameroon has been eliminated. The […]

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