Prepare for vuvuzelas at next year's World Cup
Take away the vuvuzela trumpet, and you take away the essence of the South African soccer fan.
So when some Europeans complained the relentless noise during Confederations Cup games pained their sensitive ears, South Africans showed little compassion.
"MOVES TO BAN VUVUZELAS," news billboards across the capital Pretoria blared on Thursday as fans became outraged.
"This is our voice. We sing through it," said Chris Massah Malawai, a 23-year-old company owner who was cheering, and blaring, for Bafana Bafana as they beat New Zealand on Wednesday. "It makes me feel the game."
At 17, student Rolebolige Matolindizo and his trumpet are inseparable.
"My vuvuzela will be part of my life," he said.
Danny Jordaan, head of the South African World Cup organizers, has said the roof architecture of Soccer City Stadium, site of next year's final, will have the vuvuzela noise cascading down the stand and produce "the noisiest World Cup ever."
In essence, it would be the same as banning European fans from singing and roaring at games. And FIFA itself has promoted the vuvuzela as something uniquely South African on par with the makarapa, the crazy and colorful miner's helmets stitched together from recycled materials.
"You can certainly hear them," Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro said after his team's first game.
Spain midfielder Xabi Alonso wanted FIFA to get rid of them as an "annoyance," and European broadcasters have complained they interfere with commentary piped back home.
FIFA has said it will discuss the instrument with the local World Cup organizing committee, but not before the end of the Confederations Cup on June 28.
The official vuvuzela is a plastic horn in colorful colors that is 24 inches long and weighs no more than four ounces.
Stadiums need only to be half full, and the din of the trumpets exceeds the noise level in many European stadiums. It usually starts as soon as the first fans enter the stadiums and continues throughout the game, turning into a monotonous blare as if produced by a million bees.
"Our fans blow their vuvuzelas before the match. Maybe because they know that they might not be celebrating afterwards," Jordaan joked.
Sales have gone in the hundreds of thousands and are expected to reach record levels with the hype around the World Cup.
And like it or not, the vuvuzela will be there next year, right through the World Cup final on July 11, 2010.
"When we go to South Africa, we go to Africa," FIFA president Sepp Blatter said. "It is noisy. It is something else than in the rest of world."