FIFA World Cup: Ban vuvuzelas, say football fans

By Michael Dickison

Vuvuzelas have been called "mindless" and "excruciating", and tens of thousands of soccer fans are petitioning to have them banished from the World Cup.

They are one of the most talked-about topics on Twitter and one commentator is saying they will be the most memorable part of this World Cup.

The metre-long plastic horns have been a defining feature of the South Africa World Cup so far. They are blown from start to finish at every match - as well as out on the streets - drowning out chants and songs and even television commentary.

"I don't know if I'm the only one who found excruciating this constant droning that was going on. They were blowing these trumpet-looking horns and it never ended. It was like you're being attacked by a swarm of locusts for 90 consecutive minutes. It never went away," said ESPN's Mike Greenberg on his show Mike and Mike.

One Facebook group has more than 80,000 people calling for a ban, and a vote on banvuvuzela.com has 74,239 for a ban against 8276 to keep them.

A blogger, meanwhile, has collected social media's suggestions on how to cancel the vuvuzelas' drones when watching World Cup matches on television.

Setting up your television to drop sound at the 300Hz frequency is a partial solution, he says, or for about $5 an "Anti Vuvuzela Filter" is on offer online.

The filter is a 45-minute recording of the vuvuzela, with its phase inverted to be noise cancelling, its website claims.

The blogger, Chris Hall, said he did not know whether these filters actually worked.

In South Africa, shopkeepers cannot keep up with a burgeoning demand for "Vuvu-stop" ear plugs, AFP reports.

But FIFA president Sepp Blatter has given vuvuzelas his blessing, blasting detractors by saying Africa is about dance and music, and moaning about the instrument bordered on discrimination.

Blogger Kay-el agreed, saying they only offended "European ears".

"Of course the vuvuzela must stay. We started out this long hard 2010 World Cup journey with the vuvuzela and now why should we dump it because it offends European ears?

"It is true, most of the people who are unhappy, freaked, offended, furious - whatever about the vuvuzela - are white and are European. The South Africans who complain about it also trend to the paler complexions - and they aren't real soccer fans."

Still, Danny Jordaan, chief executive of the South Africa World Cup organising committee, suggested broadcasters' complaints could lead to a ban.

"We have tried to get some order," Mr Jordaan said. "We have had some broadcasters and individuals complaining and it is something we are evaluating on an ongoing basis."

An ESPN columnist, Christy Simson, wrote in an article published in the Bangkok Post that at every World Cup "there's always one image that stays in the mind above all others".

This year, Simson said, it will be hard for any player to upstage the vuvuzela.

France's captain, Patrice Evra, complained of the horns after his team's 0-0 draw with Uruguay.

"We can't sleep at night because of the vuvuzelas," he said. "People start playing them from 6am. We can't hear one another out on the pitch because of them."

The Associated Press's John Leicester said the horns killed the atmosphere at matches by drowning out cheers and silences at crucial moments with their constant drone.

"They are simply mindless. Their pitch doesn't change, only the intensity. Blow hard. Blow soft. The range is from horrifically loud to just annoyingly so," he said.

"Please, South Africa, make them stop. Give us a song, instead."

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