The excitement in South Africa surrounding the 19th Soccer World Cup is intense. Having left Cape Town just before the beginning of the competition, after a five-month stay, I can attest to the adrenaline that’s pumping into the country. The tournament is well on the way now, teams have been eliminated and teams have made surprisingly glorious feats (go USA!), but what it seems we’ve heard most about is the overuse of vuvuzelas (plastic trumpet-like horns) – the culprits behind the constant buzzing noise heard during every single soccer match. Players, coaches, and broadcast networks alike have called for a ban of the noise-makers saying that the amplified humming is distracting and annoying. FIFA, however, has refused the ban, as the instrument is a part of the South African soccer culture and has become a symbol of the 2010 competition.
Now, the calls of vuvuzelas go beyond the stadium. Throughout the World Cup’s nine host cities, wound-up fans are tooting their vuvuzelas around the clock, making African adventures for some visitors slightly less relaxing. To curb the ruckus, the use of vuvuzelas aboard South African flights has been made illegal (and you thought crying babies on planes were a nuisance) and, thanks to angry coaches complaining about their players losing sleep due to the noise, a handful of luxury hotels in South Africa such as Cape Town's Vineyard Hotel and Spa (where the British team is staying) have ensured that the horns will not be permitted on property.
And, as part of World Cup marketing antics, vuvuzelas are being sold the world over (you can purchase one on Amazon.com for $6.99) and can be heard in plenty of cities outside South Africa. The British hotel chain, Premier Inn, has already banned vuvuzelas from its properties after an all-night horn-fest at the Newcastle Central Hotel’s bar.
I’m all for sportsmanship and camaraderie but as a traveler and city resident, I’m hoping, for the sake of my ears and sanity, that the vuvuzelas trend doesn’t infiltrate New York.
To drown out the buzzing when watching the games from home, check out Eye TV 3.4’s new “Vuvuzela Filter” which reduces the noise on your Mac.
Looking for somewhere in NYC to watch the game? Check out Play Beautiful where you can watch the action in a fabricated indoor stadium with stadium seating, not to mention complimenting happy hours and South African wine tastings.
Also, check out Braai in Midtown, a South African restaurant that opens early to accommodate – and feed – soccer fans.
For more trip-planning info, see our South Africa Travel Guide.