World Cup officials deaf to vuvuzela complaints
Angry World Cup viewers, we, at least, hear your vuvuzela
From as far away as the Himalayan mountain kingdom of Bhutan,
you have e-mailed in droves to The Associated Press to complain
that you are being driven loopy by the awful din of the trumpets
that are spoiling the World Cup in South Africa.
“Fifteen minutes into the opening game and I already took two
aspirin,” lamented Boaz Gabbai, from West Hills, California.
“Those vuvuzelas are making me nuts!!!” wrote Myriam Seyfarth
Do organizers care? They don’t give a hoot. Their bottom line:
the cheap plastic noise-polluters are a South African tradition.
Those who don’t like them can, well, lump it.
“I won’t dwell too much on what outsiders think about
vuvuzelas,” says South Africa organizing committee spokesman Rich
Mkhondo. “I won’t dwell too much on what the feelings of the
He is backed by FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who asked: “Would
you want to see a ban on the fan traditions in your country?”
Frankly, if they were as mind-meltingly annoying as this,
While freely acknowledging that organizers have no intention of
doing opinion research to confirm whether this is true, Mkhondo
added: “People love vuvuzelas around the world. Only a minority
are against vuvuzelas.”
Well, AP reader Gillian McKenna in Bordeaux, France, would beg
“PLEASE start a worldwide movement to get the vuvuzela
banned,” McKenna wrote in a response to a column I wrote this
weekend complaining about the trumpets. “It is destroying the
pleasure. I have simply stopped watching or listening.”
In my column, I argued against the horns because their constant
beehive drone mostly drowns out many of the usual sounds from
football crowds – “Ooohs,” “Ahhhs,” songs and chanting – that
enhance the experience of watching games.
Not since I angered curlers by suggesting that their sorry
excuse of a sport doesn’t really deserve a spot at the Winter
Olympics have so many people written back – more than 100 in less
than 24 hours. Opponents of the trumpets outnumbered supporters by
a 3-to-1 ratio. Via Mkhondo, I passed the e-mails to South African
organizers in hopes that they will take heed of the international
“Extremely frustrated England fan” Maureen Ling wrote: “I
& many other fans in the UK are having to mute each game – with
the result that the commentators of the various TV Channels are not
being heard, which seems to me to be a total waste of time &
money for them!! The whole ‘atmosphere’ of World Cup Entertainment
is lost! Are we REALLY expected to put up with this for another two
Well, yes, Maureen, you are.
“The vuvuzelas are here to stay and they will never be
banned,” Mkhondo said. “As our guests, please embrace our
culture, please embrace the way we celebrate.”
British bookmakers William Hill are offering smallish odds of
16-1 that the horns will be banned before the World Cup final July
“It appears to be people who don’t normally attend or watch
football matches live and would rather sit and watch games in
silence who are objecting to the vuvuzela,” said Graham Sharpe, a
William Hill spokesman. “Besides which, the noise helps drown out
some of the commentators, whose own incomprehensible vocal babble
is often far more offensive than any vuvuzela!”
Andy Romain was among the roughly 25 people who objected
strongly, some of them insultingly so, to my anti-vuvuzela
“Your article reads as, ‘can someone please shut these black
people up.’ Which is unfortunate,” he wrote. “For the love of
god, respect the culture, wait your turn, shut up, and enjoy the
“At a football stadium, it’s normal you can barely have a
conversation at any time of a game,” added Jules Bisong from the
Netherlands. “It’s always extra loud; shouting, screaming,
drumming, chanting, music, trumpeting, all mixed together. How has
that never been a hassle, only now when South Africa is hosting the
World Cup? I’m not a South African, but you guys from the media
should stop being bias, be more professional and maintain your
respect, and most of all, give South Africa a break!”
However, gentlemen, it is not just South Africans who are
blowing these horns, but fans of all stripes. And it is not the
color of the people who blow that concerns me – just the fact that
they blow, at all.
Meg Cowper-Lewis, a South African, is on my side.
“This is NOT a South African Cup, it’s not even an African Cup,
it’s a World Cup!” she wrote. “So for democracy’s sake (on which
we pride ourselves here in South Africa), do what the WORLD wants!
It’s disgracing our country and making our visitors fed-up – so
it’s up to FIFA to fix it for the majority!”
Namgay Wangchuk, the fan from Bhutan, wrote: “We stay awake at
midnight to watch it and we get this ‘tuneless and annoying’ noise.
Please make it stop. Please!”
The most frightening thing of all? The vuvuzela virus could,
heaven forbid, spread beyond South Africa. What a terrifying World
Cup legacy that would be.
“The vuvuzela is now an international instrument,” Mkhondo
said. “People buy them and stuff them in their suitcases and take
So, quick, down to the barricades, comrades! Stop these trumpets
from coming in!
You have nothing to lose but your hearing.
John Leicester is an international sports columnist for The
Associated Press. Write to him at jleicester(at)ap.org.