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An American soccer fan blows a vuvuzela horn at the World Cup An American soccer fan blows a vuvuzela at this year's World Cup. (Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images/Newscom)

What's the Buzz at the World Cup?

By Zachary Price | June 21 , 2010

VIDEO: Click here to hear a vuvuzela!

Imagine thousands of bees buzzing in your ear for 90-plus minutes-really loud bees. That's what it sounds like at a World Cup game in South Africa. The buzzing comes from thousands of fans blowing into 3-foot-long plastic horns. The brightly colored instruments are called vuvuzelas (voo-voo-ZAY-lahs).

Vuvuzela playing is a South African tradition. They were originally used to summon people to large gatherings. So they are popular among South African soccer fans jamming the stadiums. Many fans from other countries also enjoy the vuvuzela's noise-making ability.

But complaints about vuvuzelas have poured in from other fans around the world. They find the constant buzz from the vuvuzelas annoying. Coaches and players have also complained, including superstars like Lionel Messi of Argentina and Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal. They say the blaring horns interfere with communication between players on the field.

These complaints have strong grounds. Vuvuzelas can cause noise-induced hearing loss. They have also been tied to the spread of cold and flu viruses. That's because fans tend to pass vuvuzelas around. Several people blow into them.

Vuvuzela hatred is so strong that TV networks ESPN and the BBC now cut down the background buzzing during some broadcasts. FIFA, the organization that runs the World Cup, has resisted calls to forbid vuvuzelas from games. The reaction from South African fans is positive, and FIFA wants to respect the host country's traditions. But future World Cups will almost surely look at banning the world's most hated horn.

MORE WORLD CUP FOR KIDS

Soccer is a really big deal around the world. Many people enjoy watching the sport. Are you a fan too? Get weekly updates on the 2010 World Cup from Scholastic News Online.

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