An idea to humanize football without fans

As European football has returned in behind closed doors stadium across the continent, 4 of the 5 top leagues have all restarted except from Ligue 1 in France, and we look at all innovations put in place by broadcasters and leagues and teams, I still feel there is an element missing: the human touch.

You may already have read at all the new cool things they have introduced around artificial crowd noise, virtual crowd graphics, interactive digital experiences and so on. that is all good and even if opinion and acceptance may wary among people you at least see that our industry has made a creative effort even in the more conservative areas of the business.

So what else?

One of the thing I imagined it would be missing when we started talking about no fans in stadiums was the emotional, physical relationship between fans and players: the human aspect.

In a sense the efforts of some clubs to put mega screens with connected through zoom is a first attempt to make players feel less alone in those huge empty arenas, as well as replacing empty seats with fans cutouts or similar solutions.

What about the opposite, how can we make fans feel players closer than in a normal match as nobody can be there in person?

I guess the kick-off phase can be an opportunity, and as nothing during this time is a taboo anymore why not trying to be creative in that moment.

If you look at how different leagues and broadcasters produce those initial minutes it’s pretty all similar and standard, see images from Serie A, La Liga, Bundesliga.

Idea

Would it not be great if we get players to address the public at home directly, creating a connection stronger than in normal times?

The idea is to have some interaction between players and the audience during these initial moments, still protecting players’ concentration before kick-off.

What could that be? Here is a list of tentative ideas that could fill that gap:

  1. Players from both teams talking to fans directly when on the pitch to a special broadcast camera
  2. The referee and captains doing an intro with the stadium mics — like when NFL referee talk to stadium after a decision
  3. Players entering the pitch with a phone per team in their hands and filming others with audio
  4. A zoom camera station in the locking room where a players exchange a quick chat with a fan before starting

I understand there are many reasons not to do it and many issues also in terms of keeping the content interesting but still I see some potential if someone wants to give it a try.

Let me know!

@CDM / Chief Evangelist @deltatre