Vuvuzela resellers eye World Cup gold in Europe

Many World Cup fans might despise South Africa's noisy vuvuzelas, but two German entrepreneurs with the resale rights for Europe hope the plastic fan horns will become the sound of success.

Vuvuzela resellers eye World Cup gold in Europe
Photo: DPA

Cherished by South African football fans, the one-metre long plastic trumpet produces a drone like a giant swarm of bees when thousands are played at once, sparking a growing backlash from broadcasters, fans and even some players.

But Frank Urbas and Gerd Kehrberg – who acquired the resale rights for the European Union from the vuvuzela’s South African maker Masincedane Sport in March last year, are betting business will be brisk despite the controversy.

Today’s Vuvuzelas are a modern spin-off of traditional instruments made from spiralling kudu horns – kudus are a kind of antelope. Several million of them have been produced in Germany, which makes up 90 percent of all sales in Europe, says Urbas.

Most are sold to petrol stations, supermarkets or to businesses who hand them out as client freebies.

Asked about the venture’s profits, Urbas said: “We have nothing to complain about.”

World Cup organisers Monday denied they were mulling a ban on the deafening horns, as the chairman of the South African organising committee had appeared to suggest. They insisted the vuvuzela was a symbol of the tournament.

A recent survey found the sound emitted by a vuvuzela could reach 127 decibels – louder than a drum’s 122 decibels, or a referee’s whistle at 121.8 decibels.

In Germany, the horns have been banned from a number of open-air football events in Berlin, Bavaria, Dortmund, and Gelsenkirchen, with media printing warnings of their potential to cause hearing damage.

But on Sunday, vuvuzelas striped in the red, black and gold of the national flag, were still seen dotting streets in Germany as fans blared out their approval to their side’s decisive 4-0 victory over Australia.

South African manufacturer Masincedane Sport bowed to the row over the noise levels of the horn on Monday, saying it had come up with a quieter version which will pump out 20 decibels less. Urbas also says the German-made vuvuzela, which dismantles into three parts “so that it cannot be used in a fight” is some 20 decibels quieter than the regular South African version.

A former manager of Germany’s Oberhausen second division squad, Kehrberg says he spotted the business opportunity back in 2007.

“As far as we are concerned, the vuvuzela as a product is inextricably linked to the World Cup,” Urbas added.

But he did not rule out the chance of a second life in Europe for the controversial horn.

“Maybe the vuvuzela could work for sports that are already very noisy, like Formula One racing,” he mused.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


British football teams allowed to skip Germany’s quarantine for Euro 2020

Germany's government announced on Tuesday it will allow England, Scotland and Wales to enter the country without quarantine to play at Euro 2020 despite a recent rise in cases linked to the Delta variant of Covid-19 in Britain.

British football teams allowed to skip Germany's quarantine for Euro 2020
One of the venues for Euro 2020 is in Munich. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

The three teams could potentially reach the quarter-final held in Munich on July 2nd.

If that were the case, they would be exempt from the rule that travellers from the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland must currently observe a 14-day isolation period due to the virus strain of concern – Delta – first identified in India.

“The people accredited for the European football Championship are exempt from the quarantine obligation, even after arriving from an area impacted by a variant” Berlin said in a statement.

“This exemption concerns all the people who have been accredited by the organising committee for the preparation, participation, the holding and the follow-up of international sporting events,” it added.

The exemption does not include fans, who will be obliged to follow German government self-isolation rules.

Germany declared the UK a ‘virus variant area of concern’ on May 23rd due to rising cases linked to the Delta variant in parts of the country. 

READ ALSO: Germany makes UK ‘virus variant area of concern’: How does it affect you?

This reclassification came just seven days after the UK was put back on Germany’s list at the lowest risk level, and barely a month after it was taken off all risk lists completely.

The ban was put in place despite the UK’s relatively low Covid rates as a precautionary measure.

A general ban on entry is in place for people coming from countries on the ‘virus variant’ list – such as India and Brazil – the highest of Germany’s risk categories. 

There are some exceptions for entering from these countries – for example German residents and citizens. However, anyone who does enter from Germany is required to submit a Covid-19 test before boarding the flight and must quarantine for 14 days on arrival, regardless of whether they are fully vaccinated or not.

READ ALSO: Germany’s new relaxed quarantine and testing rules after travel

Euro 2020 starts on Friday as Italy host Turkey in Rome with the Bavarian city hosting three group games as well as the last-eight match.

Around 14,000 fans will be allowed into the Allianz Arena for the fixtures.