Sports are drama. Football is drama. Drama, because it’s drama, is supposed to be dramatic. Without the passion of the fans and players on display, how will those viewing around the world know that a game is important? We need to see the fans crying, even if it’s not actually related to the event we just saw. Deep down, don’t we want our emotions manipulated? UEFA seems to think so.
UEFA’s been caught in a bit a fib. During the European Championships, the organization’s television directors were manipulating the world television feed, inserting pre-recorded video at points when they did no belong. For example, when Italy’s Mario Balotelli scored his second goal in the 36th minute to give the Italian’s a two-goal lead, the UEFA feed showed a German fan with a tear running down her face.
Was she really that crushed by Mario’s second goal, 10 minutes before the first half ended? Nope.
The video was actually from before the game, during the anthems, when a bit of national pride leaked out of the fan. Still a touching moment in a lot of ways, but not the same as post-goal despair. German broadcasters became aware of the issue when the woman received texts from friends wondering why she was so upset with an hour left to go in the game.
UEFA, when pressed, passed the buck-passing like a champion buck-passer.
UEFA told The Associated Press that it was striving to show ”the human story of the game” in its television coverage, and had ”no aim whatsoever to exercise any form of control over the images delivered to broadcasters.”
European football’s ruling body said footage of tears trickling down the fan’s cheek was shown ”to translate the emotion and the tension of the German fans for this game” but ”our production did not agree with the editorial choice to put this at this exact place after the goal”.
UEFA also said it had issued instructions ”not to use these reactions again directly in a chain of replays of a live action, to avoid any misleading understanding.”
Confusing, isn’t it? It’s an explanation and an apology and a excuse, all rolled into one. Manipulation in the name of the “human story” is still manipulation. The UEFA feed also inserted pre-match footage during the Germany-Netherlands match, showing the infamous “Jogi trolls the ball boy” clip.
It’s the Germans that are most upset about this news, railing on about things like “journalistic standards” and “censorship.”
”Any form of censorship or manipulation is not acceptable for us. That’s why we clearly told UEFA that the German public expects coverage to be live when it says it’s live. Live is live and has to stay live.”
UEFA said its ”director guidelines” had been made available to all broadcasters.
But ZDF, which broadcast the Germany vs. Netherlands game, said it was unaware pre-match footage was being shown as part of the live match package. The channel’s chief of sports, Dieter Gruschwitz, described it as ”completely unusual.”
”That does not correspond to our journalistic standards,” ZDF editor-in-chief Peter Frey said.
Additionally, reports say UEFA censors broadcasts to make sure no images of political messages, streakers, pyrotechnics, or empty seats go out to the masses. You know, for our benefit.