Fifa crowd noise and zoom calls: How to create an atmosphere without fans

By Ciaran VarleyBBC Sport

Fan noise, zoom calls and Fifa crowd sounds are all on the cards.

The Premier League resumes on 17 June - fabulous news!

Even better, loads of it will be shown for free. The BBC will air four live Premier League games, Amazon Prime will make its four games free to air and there will be more free games across Sky Sports and BT Sport.

So, how will you recreate that matchday atmosphere?

Perhaps you're planning to convert your hallway into a sort of concourse for the family to mill about at half-time, liberally spilling beer over the floor...

After the game, if you fancy replicating the buzz and clamour of matchday traffic, why not go out and sit stationary in the car for 45 minutes?

Otherwise, in the absence of fans in stadiums, clubs and broadcasters are going to have to get creative in order to try to generate some kind of vibe.

Around the world innovations have been trialled, with varying degrees of success. We review some of them here…

Drive-thru football

FC Midtjylland fans
It was a long drive home for these FC Midtjylland fans, after their team lost 1-0

When Danish side FC Midtjylland hosted AC Horsens last month, fans were able to get close to the action by parking their vehicles next to the stadium.

You may get more leg room than a lot of stadiums this way, but we've definitely still got some questions. For instance, how many parking spaces should a limo be allowed?

FC Midtjylland fans
You wouldn't want to get stuck behind this...

Verdict: Could be a laugh, as long as you're not in the 'restricted view' back seat.

Pumped-in fan audio

This one's a goer. After being used in the German Bundesliga, artificial crowd noise will be available to UK viewers.

Bristol City manager Lee Johnson has said he would welcome its inclusion in the Championship.

Bristol City boss Johnson supports crowd noise at Championship games

Verdict: Probably wise to make it optional. As our Lee says, we don't want to be hearing 'ooohs' when it's not an 'oooh' moment on field and, for every fan of innovation, there is bound to be a fuming purist somewhere, convinced that this spells the death of the beautiful game.

Fifa video game crowd noise

Fifa 20
Gaming finally overtakes real life

It's been reportedexternal-link that broadcasters will use crowd noise from the video game Fifa 20. This has already been announcedexternal-link in Spain for the return of La Liga, where stadiums will also be adapted for 'virtual stands', meaning international broadcasters will be offered 'to-scale images of seated fans wearing the colours of the home club.'

One question - will the broadcasters also play the Fifa loading music while squad line-ups are being announced?

Verdict: Quite fun. Could we take it further? What about overlaying some of those classic Pro Evolution Soccer commentary refrains that said things like, 'there's no love lost between these two teams' or 'like a knife through butter'? That'd be a laugh, wouldn't it?

Sex dolls in the stands

Sorry, not sex dolls - 'premium mannequins'. That's what FC Seoul, in South Korea, insisted they had used to fill their stands in May, after fans complained.

Despite those assurances, fans did notice that lots of the dolls were advertising x-rated websites. Also, on further scrutiny, it turns out that the dolls also came from a supplier that does sell sex toys.


Verdict: The modern football fan is often characterised as a dead-eyed consumer, engaging in a purely transactional way with something that is supposed to be all about love and passion and, in that sense, perhaps the 'premium mannequin' was a good analogy. Still - it's a family game. Leave it out.

Zoom hangout

AGF Aarhus fans
A truly electric atmosphere here - not a smartphone in sight

That's what people have done in Denmark, where Danish Superliga side AGF Aarhus set up a virtual Zoom grandstand to bring fans into the stadium.

"It's about creating an atmosphere around the game so that the players will see that they have the support from the city, even though there are no supporters in the stands," the project's co-ordinator Soren Carlsen told BBC World Service's Mani Djazmi.

About 10,000 people were able to join.

Verdict: Seems to make sense, no? Why not?

There are some drawbacks, though. Firstly, will you just spend the whole 90 minutes scrutinising your own appearance, like we definitely don't do during our morning editorial meeting?

Also, Zoom fatigue is a real thing. A lot of us use these video conferences for work now - do we really want that encroaching into the footie?

Socially distanced seating

If all else fails, why not actually just put people in stadiums, but limit the amount of fans that are allowed to enter and make them sit apart?

This is what happened at the Hungarian Cup final on Wednesday. Only the lower tier of the 67,215 capacity Puskas Arena stadium was opened up to fans, who were supposed to be distanced.

Good idea?

Hungarian Cup Final, fans
Scenes at the Puskas Arena

Well, unfortunately, it didn't really work out - some fans appeared to flout the distancing rules to celebrate.

Verdict: Good if you can manage it, but pretty high risk.

Unfortunately, we haven't really offered a definitive answer here, have we? Good to have the footie back though, isn't it?!

Right, we're off to install a metal urinal trough in the bathroom, so it can really feel like an authentic stadium atmosphere in there.

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