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Sounds of Carnival

July 29, 2014

The world cup of sound


Who can forget the excitement of the world cup in 2010? South Africa was buzzing to the sound of the vuvuzela and the roar of packed football stadiums. And now Brazil is in the same throes of soccer passion, vibrancy and atmosphere.

Each world cup brings with it its own excitement and Brazil certainly brings “carnival” to the beautiful game. But we thought we would explore the world cup world of sounds.



Love it or hate it, the vuvuzela is as much part of our global footprint as is Table Mountain, but what does the vuvuzela sound mean to you? It is the sound of South African football. With the trumpet of support there are packed stadia filled fans expressing their passion. Even away from the stadiums, when we hear the vuvuzela we hear a fan applauding their team through sound

I’m sure this goes without saying but studies have been conducted and did you know that  a vuvuzela produces 120 decibels at a distance of 1m and prolonged exposure can lead to permanent hearing loss?


Did you know: FIFA banned all “noise makers” and other drums, horns and instruments at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil?



Could you imagine such a South African feature of our Soccer being silenced for our World Cup? But it has not become gloomy in Brazil – fans will be fans & their passionate celebrations are to be shared. Sound can bring us together, whilst noise can often separate us…

Have you heard the carnival music of Brazil, have you heard the drums of the Capoera Dance? Or travelling across the globe, have you ever had the chance of standing in the bleaches with your fellow team supporters singing the chants of pride! Now imagine the beautiful game without sound…


Did you know: Vuvzela’s are banned at many stadiums including:

  • Wembley stadium
  • Wimbledon
  • Yankee stadium
  • Melbourne cricket ground
  • And the list goes on


Stadium cheers

The world record for loudest cheers goes to the American Football franchise the Seattle Seahawks, who reached a decibel level of 131.9, screaming past the previous record set at a soccer match in Istanbul (131.7 decibels)

These are excessive roaring fans, so what then is normal? What can crowds expect in Brazil, perhaps during the final match? So we got measurements on the Premier League stadiums, who are known for huge crowds and 90 minutes of non-stop singing:

  • Liverpool 97 decibels
  • Manchester United 94 decibels
  • Aston Villa 89 decibels

As can be expected loudest decibels at this world cup belongs to the fans. Brazilian fans reached an impressive 100 decibels singing their opening match national anthem.


So can stadium noise damage your hearing?

In short, yes! Any prolonged exposure to high levels of noise can damage a persons hearing. The important thing to remember is that loud noise accrues damage, so even in short bursts; high noise levels will accumulatively damage your hearing.

This goes for ipods, rock concerts and football matches.

Take care of your hearing, and remember to think of those who watch the World Cup in silence.


Contact Southern ENT at 012 667 4460 if you need information on hearing loss.  We can refer you to hearing professionals in your area for an assessment.  We also have a Facebook Page and a Twitter Account if you would like to stay connected


How can you prevent hearing loss from excessive noise exposure?Use hearing protection when you are exposed to excessive noise.  Here are some options.


South African Medical Journal Articles

Swanepoel D, Hall JW III, Koekemoer D (2010). Vuvuzela – good for your team, bad for your ears.South African Medical Journal, 100(2):99-100.

Swanepoel D, Hall JW III (2010). Football match spectator sound exposure and effect on hearing: a pretest-post-test studySouth African Medical Journal, 100(4):239-242.

Swanepoel D, Hall JW III, Koekemoer D (2010). Vuvuzela sound measurementsSouth African Medical Journal,


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