* Organisers say vuvuzelas will not be banned
* Players complain that incessant din a distraction
* Din proves a boon for earplug vendors (Recasts, adds Danish keeper, demand for earplugs)
By Gugulakhe Lourie
JOHANNESBURG, June 14 (Reuters) - Vuvuzela trumpets will not be banned from the World Cup, organisers say, despite complaints from teams over the cacophony and a run on earplugs as South Africans fret about their hearing.
The incessant blasting of the plastic trumpets has become the unofficial World Cup soundtrack, but the vuvuzelas have triggered controversy.
A BBC report said chief organiser Danny Jordaan had not ruled out banning the horns, but Rich Mkhondo, a spokesman for the local World Cup organising committee, said “Vuvuzelas are here to stay and will never be banned.”
“People love the vuvuzelas around the world. Only a minority are against vuvuzelas. There has never been a consideration to ban vuvuzelas,” he added.
Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk has banned them from his team’s training sessions and Danish keeper Thomas Sorensen suggested teams use increased planning, eye contact and sign language to overcome the problems caused by ceaseless din.
Vuvuzelas have been controversial since the Confederations Cup last year, a World Cup dress rehearsal, when several players complained they could not communicate through the racket.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter also rejected calls for them to be banned, saying they are as typical of South African football as bongo drums or chants in other countries.
Mkhondo said the horns were part of the local culture and he said they were also being used by fans from other countries — a view backed up by the enormous extra demand seen by vuvuzela outlets across South Africa.
“It seems like the bad publicity has been good for us,” said Brandon Bernado, owner of the vuvuzela.co.za website and a factory he said could churn out at least 10,000 of the instruments every day.
“We’re completely sold out. Every time we manufacture more, the next morning by nine we’re sold out,” he told Reuters.
The vuvuzela industry is worth 50 million rand ($6.45 million) in South Africa and Europe, according to Cape Town-based Neil van Schalkwyk, who developed the vuvuzela seven years ago.
The vogue for vuvuzelas is also proving a boon for earplug vendors too as South Africans rush to protect their hearing and get a good night’s sleep.
“It’s actually very dangerous. Vuvuzelas can produce about 200 decibels of noise — which basically sounds like a herd of elephants approaching,” said Lindy Gordon-Brown, who runs an online business selling earplugs.
Staff at Grayston pharmacy in Johannesburg’s Sandton business hub have made three orders for earplugs in the last week, and stocks are already running low.
Gordon-Brown said her sales have trebled due to the World Cup and that many buyers are entrepreneurs hoping to sell earplugs at a premium outside stadiums.
“I’m sure they’re going to be a lot of earplugs available around the stadiums but heaven knows what they’re going to charge.” (Additional reporting by Zaheer Cassim, Helen Popper and Opheera McDoom)