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June 13, 2010

Chief organizer: Trumpet ban possible

ESPN.com news services

The soundtrack to the World Cup has been a steady buzz, but the noise could soon be coming to an end.

South Africa's World Cup organizing chief Danny Jordaan said Sunday there is a chance vuvuzelas may be banned from inside stadiums after numerous complaints, BBC News has reported.

Evra We can't sleep at night because of the vuvuzelas. People start playing them from 6 a.m. We can't hear one another out on the pitch because of them.

-- France captain Patrice Evra

Asked whether he'd consider getting rid of the trumpets, he said: "If there are grounds to do so, yes. We did say that if any land on the pitch in anger we will take action."

France captain Patrice Evra has already blamed the noise generated by the vuvuzelas for his team's poor showing in its opening 0-0 draw with Uruguay.

"We can't sleep at night because of the vuvuzelas," Evra said. "People start playing them from 6 a.m. We can't hear one another out on the pitch because of them."

Jordaan said organizers are doing everything possible.

"We've tried to get some order," Jordaan said. "We have asked for no vuvuzelas during national anthems or stadium announcements. It's difficult, but we're trying to manage the best we can."

"I would prefer singing," he said.

The first-round contests introduced most of the world to the vuvuzela, a plastic trumpet carried into the matches and blown on incessantly by thousands of fans. On television, it sounds as if the game is being played before a nest of angry bees.

It's louder at the games than it is on the telecast. ESPN is altering the sound mix on its broadcasts to minimize the crowd noise, network spokesman Bill Hofheimer said. The network has accepted it as part of the atmosphere and has made no complaints about the vuvuzelas, he said.

The sound is driving others crazy, though.

"The constant drone of cheap and tuneless plastic horns is killing the atmosphere of the World Cup," wrote John Leicester, an international sports columnist for The Associated Press. He wrote that it is drowning out the oohs, aahs and cheers that lend excitement to the matches.

Plainly, many of the fans take pride in the tradition.

A website informing visitors about South Africa, www.safrica.info, describes the vuvuzelas as "a beautiful noise for the beautiful game."

Despite the noise the World Cup is causing quite a buzz on U.S. television.

Preliminary estimates indicate the quadrennial soccer tournament is off to a fast start with viewers, even with the odd, horn-blowing soundtrack that ESPN has sought to minimize on its broadcasts.

Saturday's first-round tie by the U.S. and English teams was seen by an estimated 13 million on ESPN, the Nielsen Co. said on Sunday. It was the nation's most-watched soccer telecast since the 2006 World Cup final between Italy and France, and the most-watched involving the U.S. men's national team since 1994.

San Diego, San Francisco and Las Vegas were the cities most interested in the game, according to the Nielsen figures.

A viewership estimate for the U.S.-England game on the Spanish-speaking Univision network was not immediately available.

An estimated 5.4 million people in the U.S. watched the tournament's first game Friday between Mexico and the South African home team on Univision, Nielsen said. ESPN's telecast of that game had 2.9 million viewers.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.