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Debate: Banning vuvuzela horns at the 2010 World Cup

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Should the Vuvuzela horn be banned from the FIFA World Cup?

Background and Context of Debate:

The vuvuzela, sometimes called a "lepatata" or a stadium horn, is a blowing horn up to approximately 3 feet in length. It is commonly blown by fans at football matches in South Africa. After the Confederations Cup FIFA received complaints from multiple European broadcasters who wanted it banned for the 2010 FIFA World Cup because the sound drowns out the commentators.
On June 13, 2010, the BBC reported that the South African organizing chief Danny Jordaan was considering a ban of the vuvuzela during matches. Jordaan noted that "if there are grounds to do so, yes [they will be gotten rid of]" and that "if any land on the pitch in anger we will take action." On June 15, it was reported that 545 complaints had been made to the BBC concerning the noise being made by vuvuzelas during coverage. BBC is reportedly considering an alternate broadcast stream that filters out the ambient noise while maintaining game commentary. A spokesperson for the ESPN network said it was taking steps to minimize the noise of the vuvuzelas on its broadcasts. There are some that see their use during the performance of the national anthems as disrespectful. Other critics have also noted that it is seen as disrespectful to be "dismissive of the cultures of the guest team supporters". Some commentators have defended the vuvuzela as being an integral and unique part of South African football culture and say it adds to the atmosphere of the game. BBC sports commentator Farayi Mungazi said the sound of the horn was the "recognized sound of football in South Africa" and is "absolutely essential for an authentic South African footballing experience". He also said there was no point in taking the world cup to Africa and then "trying to give it a European feel". The debate below will focus on whether or not the vuvuzela horn should be banned at the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Contents

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Tradition: Are vuvuzelas an important S. African tradition?

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Pro

  • Singing is bigger part of tradition of S. Africa than Vuvuzela South African World Cup Organising committee chief executive Danny Jordaan said in June of 2010: "I would prefer singing. It's always been a great generator of a wonderful atmosphere in stadiums and I would try to encourage them to sing. In the days of the struggle (against apartheid) we were singing, all through our history it's our ability to sing that inspired and drove the emotions."[1]
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Con

  • The vuvuzela is a South African tradition The vuvuzela is all about South African pride and culture. Silencing it would silence this culture and damage the sense of identity among these people. 26-year-old Hendrik Maharala of Johannesburg, for example, said to the Huffington Post in June of 2010: "I feel like an African when I blow the vuvuzela."[2]
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Players: Do vuvuzelas disrupt or encourage players?

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Pro

  • Vuvuzelas disrupt concentration of players. Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo went on record to state that the sound of the vuvuzelas disturbed the teams' concentration during World Cup play.[4]
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Con

  • Vuvuzela sales are economically beneficial in S. Africa. The sales of vuvuzelas are massive, amounting to many hundreds of thousands around stadiums and even in rural towns away from these areas for use in bars and other public areas. This is economically beneficial for the vendors that sell them, and a significant factor to consider in support of the vuvuzela.
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Viewing experience: Do vuvuzelas detract from or add to viewing experience?

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Pro

  • Vuvuzelas are generally very annoying. Commentators have described the sound as "annoying" and "satanic" and compared it with "a stampede of noisy elephants", an elephant passing wind, "a deafening swarm of locusts", "a goat on the way to slaughter", and "a giant hive full of very angry bees".[6]
  • Vuvuzelas drown out ebbs and flows of games. In the course of a game without the Vuvuzela, one gets a sense of how the crowd is reacting to action, with excitement and lows being conveyed through collective voices ebbing and flowing. The Vuvuzela completely drowns this out, undermining one of the unique experiences of watching futbol.
  • Vuvuzelas drown out singing and other expressions of support. Some spectators have also complained that vuvuzelas drown out other expressions of support, such as singing, chanting, clapping, and oowing and ahhing.
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Con

  • Vuvuzelas essential to viewing experience in S. Africa. Some commentators have defended the vuvuzela as being an integral and unique part of South African football culture and say it adds to the atmosphere of the game. BBC sports commentator Farayi Mungazi said the sound of the horn was the "recognised sound of football in South Africa" and is "absolutely essential for an authentic South African footballing experience".[8]
  • Many people enjoy the noise of the vuvuzela. A 21-year-old Jessica Dyrand said to the Huffington Post in June of 2010: "I love the noise."[10]
  • The vuvuzela supercharges the atmosphere at the world cup. The vuvuzela produces much more noise than the human voice, and so conveys a much greater level of excitement. This produces a higher level of excitement and positive atmosphere at these events.
  • Guests at World Cup should embrace S. African vuvuzela tradition. World Cup local organizing committee spokesman Rich Mkhondo told a news conference at Soccer City stadium: "Vuvuzelas are here to stay and will never be banned. The history of the vuvuzela is ingrained in South Africa. As our guests please embrace our culture, please embrace the way we celebrate."[11]
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TV viewing: Does it undermine TV viewing?

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Pro

  • Vuvuzelas make it hard to hear commentators. The vuvuzelas are so loud that they even make it hard to hear the commentators on TV that are trying to describe the action of the game.
  • Vuvuzela generally disrupts TV viewing of games. Many TV viewers are very annoyed by the vuvuzela and mute their TVs in order to avoid having to listen to it. This significantly diminishes the viewing experience, causing viewers to miss the ebbs and flows of the emotion of the fans and the commentating.
  • They are a source of headaches.
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Con

  • TV stations can easily adjust volume for vuvuzelas. TV stations are fully capable of moderating the volume so that the background noise of the vuvuzelas is reduced and so that the commentators can be better heard. This makes for an entirely appropriate viewing experience.
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National anthems: Can vuvuzelas disrupt national anthems?

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Pro

  • Vuvuzelas can disrupt national anthems and award ceremonies. There is supposed to be silence during national anthems and award ceremonies after the championship game. The vuvuzelas are a risk during these events, even if they are not always played at these times. During the opening ceremony for the 2010 World Cup, for example, the announcer had to ask fans using vuvuzelas to be quiet as he could not be heard.[12]
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Con

  • Fans respectfully avoid blowing vuvuzelas during anthems. There have not been major problems with fans blowing the vuvuzelas during national anthems and during ceremonies. Unless these problems exist, the vuvuzela should not be banned. Fans realize that if they blow the vuvuzela during these ceremonies, that their horns may be banned all together. And, generally, they have demonstrated that they can be trusted to act appropriately and with discretion in how and when to use the vuvuzela.
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Hearing damage: Do they cause damage to the ear?

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Pro

  • Vuvuzelas can cause hearing damage. Vuvuzelas can trumpet up to 127 decibels, which means they are fully capable of causing hearing damage to those at a game. This is particularly true for young children and babies, whose ears are more vulnerable. But, even for adults it can be damaging. This risk is important to avoid. Banning the Vuvuzela would be an appropriate protective measure in response.
  • Vuvuzelas are very dangerous if blown directly into the ear. Vuvuzelas can be blown directly into another person's ear, either accidently or sometimes on purpose (out of ignorance over the effects or out of malice to cause harm). In crowded areas, this occurs with relative frequency during the excitement of the game, particularly for fans seated directly in front of those blowing vuvuzelas. The damage that this can cause should be avoided by banning the vuvuzela.
  • Vuvuzelas could lead to lawsuits over hearing loss. Hearing damage done by the vuvuzelas could lead to lawsuits against FIFA for having allowed them.
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Con

  • Ear plugs can effectively limit any damage from vuvuzela. For anybody that is concerned about their ears, they can very easily and very cheaply purchase ear plugs. And, children can wear these or the more robust ear muffs.
  • Fans can be trusted to use vuvuzelas safely. Just as we can trust fans to avoid screaming directly into their friends or other fans' ears, we can generally trust them to avoid blowing their vuvuzelas directly into the ears of fans and colleagues.
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Safety: Do vuvuzelas present a security threat in stadiums?

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Pro

  • Vuvuzelas can be used as weapons. Vuvuzelas can be used to hit or even jab some one violently. This is particularly true if the are broken in sharp pieces. This is a risk that should be avoided, particularly at football matches that are known for generating significant frustration and anger among and between fans.
  • Vuvuzelas can be thrown on the football field in anger. This is a risk to players, particularly since there are thousands of vuvuzelas in the stands.
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Con

  • Vuvuzelas are the least of safety concerns in stadiums. If someone wants to inflict violence on others at games, they can sneak in a knife, start a fight, and/or initiate a deadly stampede. The idea that a light-weight plastic horn could be a greater threat than these things is an absolute joke.
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Pro/con sources

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Con

See also

External links and resources

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