If soccer returns, it could be with CGI fans and cardboard cutouts in empty stadiums

Cassandra Negley
·3 min read

Those filling their quarantine hours re-watching the movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe have noticed how far computer generated imagery (CGI) has come in a decade. Now it might be put to use on soccer broadcasts.

CGI fans could come to Premier League

The Premier League is plotting its return after the COVID-19 outbreak hit, but matches will likely be held without fans in attendance. Of course, that creates an awkward-looking broadcast for the fans watching at home.

So Sky Sports, which has aired the Premier League since its inception in 1992, is considering using CGI in place of empty stadium seats, per a report by I News in Britain.

“People have found closed door matches at international level a bit of a novelty in the past but if you have to watch that multiple times over many months then that will probably devalue the product, which runs the risk of harming of the Premier League’s brand and arguably the broadcasters too.”

It would be difficult to use CGI on such a large scale with dozens of cameras providing a complete 360-degree view of the stadium. Another consideration could be holding matches in smaller stadiums, or dropping the number of camera angles.

Germany’s Bundesliga will have cardboard fans

Borussia Mönchengladbach fans are purchasing cardboard cutouts of their likeness that will be put in the club’s Borussia-Park stadium seats during games, should they resume.

Via Time Magazine:

“When players go through the tunnel and you see those supporters in the tribunes, you have the feeling someone is watching you,” says Markus Aretz, head of media and communications for Borussia Mönchengladbach. “It’s a good feeling for the players. It’s fun. It’s a statement by the fans that they want to be with the team. It’s a statement for us: the fans are part of the game.”

The campaign has more than 10,000 orders as of Wednesday. Officials have opened the stadium up to the group, which has placed 3,000 fans already.

Will soccer return this season?

Some leagues have already cancelled the rest of the 2019-20 season, including Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 in France. Paris Saint-Germain was crowned the champion on Thursday.

Arsenal returned to practice in the Premier League, which plans to play games again next month. But FIFA’s medical chief said he would be happy if there was no soccer until August when the new season began. That way teams, cities and countries could avoid a second outbreak of the crisis.

Fans in CGI form might take over Premier League broadcasts on Sky Sports. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)
Fans in CGI form might take over Premier League broadcasts on Sky Sports. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)

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