So what’s with the strange hum during World Cup games?


The strange noise viewers an listeners are hearing during World Cup games is the sound of thousands of “vuvuzelas,” long plastic horns popular with South African soccer fans, who blow them relentlessly during games. Played by producing a ‘raspberry’ sound with your lips, the vuvuzelas’ sound has been compared to an elephant’s trumpet, a dying goat and a car going over rumble strips, reports

Many say these horns are unbelievably annoying for the World Cup broadcasts. Unless you’ve listened to a game you can’t understand how awful they are.

The horns first came into fashion in the mid-1990s, but their origin is unclear. Some say the vuvuzela is a descendant of the traditional kudu horn — though that seems apocryphal. One distributor claims the instrument came over as a children’s toy from America. The trumpets even have their own Philo T. Farsnworth: Freddie Makke, a legendary supporter of South African pro club Kaizer Chiefs, who claims he invented an aluminum version in the late ’60s, then switched over to plastic after the originals were confused with weapons.

FIFA originally considered banning the vuvuzelas, said the story, in the run-up to the World Cup, after scientists warned of hearing damage among the spectators and both players and announcers expressed fears they would drowned out by the trumpets’ drone. South African officials eventually convinced FIFA to drop the proposed ban, arguing that they were an essential part of the South African soccer experience. (Vuvuzelas longer than 1 meter remain off-limits.)