Thousands of Danish soccer fans filled the stadium this week for a bout between AGF Aarhus and Randers FC – despite being stuck at home. With the help of virtual meeting app Zoom, AGF Aarhus projected video of fans watching the game to help feign the typical game atmosphere in an empty stadium.
The feat was pulled off by way of a 9 x 131 ft. video screen set up along one side of the stadium that could display 200 fans faces at once. AGF Aarhus officials coordinated with Zoom earlier this month to iron out the logistics and soon offered “tickets” into the game in the form of a Zoom meeting link. Over 500 total meetings – each with 18 participants – were involved in the effort.
According to AGF Aarhus media officer Søren Carlsen, the idea stemmed from a Danish television special that used technology to virtually unite musicians and fans in one broadcast.
“And that gave us the idea,” Carlsen said, via Yahoo Sports. “Could we do something similar in a football stadium?”
While the experimental project successfully broadcasted 10,000 fans into an empty stadium, the technology presented some flaws for players and fans alike. Fans on Zoom were not connected to a live feed of the game but rather each other’s screens, meaning to watch and react to the game, they had to stream it separately. On the players’ side, delays in broadcast meant that fan reactions came pouring in seconds after the action occurred on the field.
Nonetheless, the initiative presents a new method to bring fans closer to games played in isolation. Sports teams around the globe have brainstormed various ways to enhance the game atmosphere with empty stands, from using mannequins to projecting fan cheers through an app.