Vuvuzela controversy solved? A quieter vuvuzela
Vuvuzela factory owner Neil van Schalkwyk says he sells vuvuzelas that are quieter than the deafening horns stirring up controversy at the World Cup. Even Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are complaining about the sound.
Cape Town, South Africa
The Cape Town businessman has produced vuvuzelas, in the colors of every World Cup team, with a redesigned mouthpiece that reduces the tuneless horn's sound output from a deafening 134 decibels to a more manageable 121 decibels, and says he was delighted by a decision today not to ban the popular plastic horns.
Mr. Van Schalkwyk says pressure to ban them was an affront to South African football culture and sent the wrong message to domestic fans.
His company Masincedane Sport is making 2.5 million vuvuzelas this year. He worked on the new design with a German company after criticism from foreign teams and coaches at last year’s Confederations Cup.
"We think this quieter version will be a hit among fans," says van Schalkwyk.
But the vuvuzela controversy only seems to be growing louder. Even 121 decibels is still louder than the average loud rock concert, and sustained exposure may result in hearing loss. At a World Cup match, with thousands of vuvuzelas blowing extra hard, the sound may rise above 140 decibels, which is on par with a gun blast and enough to cause damage even from short exposure, according to a study by the South African Association for Audiologists.
Television audiences around the world have complained about the din from the horn, which critics liken to a herd of trampling elephants or swarms of bees. The BBC is thinking of offering ‘clean’ coverage of the games by stripping out the background noise in stadiums.
Spain’s Xabi Alonso, Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk, and the Japanese football team have all previously complained that the sound makes communication on the pitch impossible – a complaint echoed by Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Argentina’s Lionel Messi during this World Cup.
“I know Ronaldo has said it makes it difficult on the pitch but it didn’t seem to hurt the Germans who looked inspired against Australia. I think foreign people will grow to love the vuvuzela as much as we do,” says van Schalkwyk.