Vuvuzelas too raucous for security guards

I can understand why some fans hate the sound of the vuvuzela at the stadiums.

The ceaseless roar of the notorious South African trumpet can be overwhelming and inconvenient when you’re trying to phone your buddies to check where they are sitting, or when you are thirsty and screaming frantically at the vendors meandering through the crowd with refreshments, and you’re drowned by the raucous vuvuzela.

But for Siviwe “Chippa” Mpengesi, owner of Chippa Security Services, which provided security at the stadiums during the Confederations Cup, the deafening sounds of the vuvuzela became more than just an inconvenience.
Placed within the crowds and around the stadiums and charged with ensuring that fans and footballers were safe, communication was key to their task.

“We needed to stay in contact at all times, through cellular phones and through our radios. This proved impossible once the stadium filled up and fans started blowing their vuvuzelas,” said a frustrated Mpengesi.

“If there is a problem at any part of the stadium and you need backup, the radios became useless as no one could hear them ring and, even if you did, you still struggled to speak to each other, which meant you would have to leave the problem and go and look for someone to help you. This is dangerous and creates room for disasters that we are supposed to prevent.”

Mpengesi said they tried to improve communication by investing in radios that vibrate or flash.

The problem was that these were twice as expensive and security agents still could not hear each other over the loud vuvuzelas.

Niclas Ericson, Fifa’s director of television, confirmed that some broadcasters and viewers had also raised concerns about the deafening noise of the vuvuzelas.

“All I kept thinking while watching the Confed games was that this unbearable sound will be a permanent feature again in the World Cup. If broadcasters don’t turn down the microphones in the stadium I’ll have to resort to turning off the sound on the TV,” said Simon McCarthy, a viewer from the United States.

Foreign broadcasters said they too struggled to do their work amid the noise. Aurelio Capaldi of Rai Italian television said he and his colleagues found it difficult to concentrate and communicate when broadcasting from the stadiums.

South Africans have come out in defence of their unique trumpet, saying it’s part of their long-standing football culture.

Fifa president Sepp Blatter also backed it and assured the fans that the vuvuzela was not going anywhere. “Yes, the vuvuzelas are different. And, honestly, I don’t hear them anymore. We have brought the World Cup to Africa where the atmosphere and the culture are different. The vuvuzela is part of the local football culture and adds to the flavour of South African football,” said Blatter.

Mpengesi still insists Fifa should do something to accommodate those who have to work at the stadiums.

“I’m not saying we should do away with vuvuzelas completely, I just think Fifa should at least try to control the numbers and/or the sizes of the vuvuzelas in the stadium to control the noise levels. You can’t have everyone blowing a vuvuzela all at once throughout the game.”

Despite Mpengesi’s security concerns, between Fifa and the majority of South African football fans, the vuvuzela appears to have enough support to be part and parcel of 2010.

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