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.