Surely, one of the most talked about issues surrounding this year’s FIFA world cup in South Africa is the vuvuzela. Forget Lionel Messi, Didier Drogba, Christiano Ronaldo or even Wayne Rooney, the vuvuzela has actually made a lot more people take notice. A vuvuzela is a colourful plastic horn, approximately one metre long, commonly blown by South African football fans during matches. Some love them, others hate them and rarely do you find anyone in between. While the vuvuzela will certainly become one of the icons of the FIFA 2010 world cup, most of the complaints have been by fans watching the games on television. Some say the noise combined, sounds like a swarm of bees while others liken it more to that of hungry mosquitoes. In fact, such was the amount of irritation suffered by English football fans in the United Kingdom that the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) received 545 complaints about the sounds of the vuvuzela horn, in the opening days of its World Cup coverage.
The South African World Cup organisers had briefly considered a stadium ban on the plastic horns following complaints from fans and players alike, however this was ruled out. So then, the question is whether there is a technology that can totally remove or cut out the sounds of the vuvuzela – a sort of digital electronic filter that will only stream crowd noise and TV commentary.The BBC is currently considering broadcasting a vuvuzela-free service bia the red button. However, there one doubts whether that can actually work because the vuvuzela noise operates on a similar frequency to speech tones and cutting it out will definitely hamper television commentaries.
The other alternative will be to completely eliminate sound from football matches which makes one wonder if those who find the noise irritating cannot actually do so themselves through the mute button.The final alternative is to invest a few quid in purchasing a “vuvu-stop” i.e. ear plugs. However, many will still find the use of ear plugs to be unnatural at a football match or while watching telly at home.Already there are some claims to sell vuvuzela cancellers on the Internet for example, a 45 minute MP3 noise cancelling track, and a soundcard-equipped computer software. However, scientists warn that it is impossible to play a sound in order to cancel another from the television.
So then, it does appear that the vuvuzela has come to stay, at least for the duration of the world cup and there is no equipment that can separate its noise from the traditional fans’ singing, cheering and jeering in football games. Therefore, there appears to be only two options – use the ever present mute button on your TV remote control or get used to it.
Are there complaints about the vuvuzela in your part of the world? What do you think commentaries and crowd noise add to televised sporting events?