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South Africa World Cup: What's worse, the vuvuzelas or the whining about them?

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Melanie Stetson Freeman/Staff

(Read caption) THE CULPRIT: Players, fans, and coaches at the South Africa World Cup are complaining about the noise created by vuvuzelas, or long, plastic horns. South African fans like the ones pictured at left play them incessantly at the matches and say they are integral to the South African soccer experience.

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How do I compare thee, oh vuvuzela? A swarm of bees, perhaps, or a runaway freight train tearing through the inside of one’s cranium.

Local South Africans call the arm’s length plastic trumpet part of their soccer tradition, saying it gives their players an advantage. Outsiders, including the world's best player, Argentina's Lionel Messi, and even a few South Africans, consider the vuvuzela a nuisance that should be banned from the South Africa World Cup. A stadium full of vuvuzelas drowns out the bands and songs of other visiting nations, they argue.

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Gift, a Zimbabwean migrant who sells vuvuzelas and national flags on a street corner in Johannesburg, has the merchant’s natural dislike of strong opinions.

Personally, he dislikes vuvuzelas. But he’s happy to sell them.

“I think they should be banned, because in Zimbabwe at football matches, we sing songs, we dance, and here, with the vuvuzelas playing, eh, you can’t hear anything,” says Gift, who won’t give his full name. That said, he has already sold out today’s stock of vuvuzelas by noontime, and he doesn’t think World Cup organizers could get rid of vuvuzela even if they tried. “Everyone has them now, even the Europeans. So I don’t think they can ban them.”

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