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World Cup Fans Abuzz Over Noisy Vuvuzela Horns

June 21, 2010 at 12:00 AM EDT
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The distinctive buzz of traditional South African vuvuzela stadium horns has sparked controversy at the matches and fascination on the Internet. A reporter with Independent Television News examines the noisy controversy from the World Cup.
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TRANSCRIPT

GWEN IFILL: Finally tonight: another take on the World Cup. If you have been watching the matches, you have no doubt heard the blaring buzz of South Africa’s horns. We heard a little bit a minute ago.

Our story comes from Rohit Kachroo of Independent Television News.

ROHIT KACHROO: They’re on the streets and in the stadia, unmistakable, inescapable. It is the sound of this World Cup.

Well, add to this wall of news the growing sound of the critics, managers, broadcasters, and players, including Ronaldo.

The fans were less bothered as organizers rejected calls for a ban.

RICH NKHONDO, FIFA World Cup organizer: In South Africa, we celebrate the beautiful game by using the vuvuzela. So, if you’re coming from outside, get used to our culture. Get used to the way we celebrate the beautiful game, and learn to blow a vuvuzela.

ROHIT KACHROO: Just like at this vuvuzela orchestra, the instrument derived from a tribal horn is more than just a tradition. The South Africa team call it their 12th man. But what impact they may have on the fans in the stands?

The man behind this mouthpiece has studded the vuvuzela — so, that’s reached about 130 — and believes football fans might leave South Africa with permanent hearing damage.

DE WET SWANEPOEL, University of Pretoria: That’s about the same level if you are a miner in a gold mine and you are drilling at the rock face.

ROHIT KACHROO: And it sounds like a stampede of elephants, but this is South Africa, where the vuvuzelas rarely fall silent.

GWEN IFILL: In an effort to tone down the clamor of the horns — and that’s putting it kindly — the company providing the broadcasting feed for the World Cup matches doubled its audio filters last week. But that doesn’t help the spectators in the stands.