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World Cup: Vuvuzelas on tape? Is the stadium racket just a recording?

June 17, 2010 |  7:24 am

I have just finished watching Argentina demolish South Korea, 4-1, at the Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg.

While my eyes were fixed on Lionel Messi, Carlos Tevez and the rest of the Albicelestes -- not to mention their coach, Diego Maradona -- my ears were tuned elsewhere.

As usual, the drone of the vuvuzelas was omnipresent, but there was something not quite right about it all. The more I looked around the stadium, the more blocks of fans I examined through binoculars, the fewer of the annoying plastic horns I saw.

I checked and double-checked. I had other reporters sitting near me do the same thing. The consensus was that there seemed to be much more vuvuzela noise than there were people actually blowing into the confounded things.

So the question is this: Is the racket being played over World Cup stadium public address systems and, if so, to what end? Is it to generate atmosphere? Is it to sell vuvuzelas? Do Joseph ("always one to blow my own horn") Blatter and his friends have a stake in the burgeoning vuvuzela marketplace?

Or was it simply my ears deceiving me? To be honest, I don't know the answer. It just seemed to me that there was a much louder volume of sound than could be produced by a few hundred, or even a few thousand, people "playing" the vuvuzela.

Perhaps a sound engineer somewhere can compare the audiotape from the South Africa-Mexico opening game with the tape from Wednesday's game and see if they match in any way.

A note to television viewers in the U.S.: the next time the cameras pan the crowd, see if your eyes can see what your ears are telling you you should be seeing.

Send your observations in this direction. I'm all ears.

-- Grahame L. Jones in Johannesburg, South Africa