Coronavirus News Asia

Zoom parties: the new norm for EPL soccer

From cardboard cut-outs in the stands to Zoom watch parties, the return of the English Premier League will be a bizarre experience for locked-out soccer supporters.

The English top-flight resumes behind closed doors on Wednesday, with fans forced to adapt to an unsettling new normal due to the coronavirus.

Anyone watching the Bundesliga since German football’s return will have noticed the eerie silence in the stands and echoing shouts of players are not conducive to a riveting viewing experience.

In the absence of fans, the games often seem soulless and resemble reserve team fixtures rather than high-stakes encounters.

Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is certain the Premier League product will suffer from the lack of color and passion provided by supporters.

“What makes it special in England is the way people react to the game,” Wenger told The Athletic. “It is the best country in the world for the way the fans respond to what’s happening on the pitch.”

He added: “You realize that football without fans is not real…. Only one part of the spectacle is the players. You realize how much you miss the other part.”

Keen to salvage some of the vibrant atmosphere that makes English soccer so popular, Premier League chiefs set up the Broadcast Enhancement Advisory Group.

Clubs will reportedly be able to use video screens in stadiums to create “fan walls” made up of supporters on live video calls.

In Denmark, hundreds of fans were shown on a giant screen along one side of the Ceres Park stadium for the recent Superliga match between AGF Aarhus and Randers.

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