UEFA Altered Euro2012 Live Footage, Calls it 'Human Error'

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In a "human error," UEFA used footage of this woman crying during a match. The woman had been crying during the national anthem, not the game. (Credit: the Guardian, screenshot)

The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) altered Euro2012 footage during a game to make it look like a spectator was crying when she hadn’t been, the Guardian reported. “Uefa, European football’s governing body, which controlled the broadcast, had strategically inserted the images following a goal when they had actually been filmed much earlier…during the singing of the national anthem,” the paper wrote.

The footage aired June 28 in international media including BBC1, ESPN and two German TV stations, ARD and ZDF, according to The Sun and Yahoo.  Deadspin put the blame on UEFA, noting that “Hundreds of channels … aired the streaming live signal from UEFA—which on multiple occasions goosed the live footage by adding prerecorded shots, with zero acknowledgement.”

UEFA has owned up to the video altering but claimed it was “to translate the emotion and tension of German fans.”  UEFA told iMediaEthics that the altering “was only a human error.”  An email from the UEFA Press Office sent to iMediaEthics said that

“UEFA has never manipulated any images of the UEFA Euro 2012.”

But, concerning the spectator, UEFA wrote:

“In the game ITA-GER, the insertion of this crying fan as part of the chain of replays of the goal was a mistake of the slow motion operator…”

UEFA’s Press Office said “recorded images are used as replays and clearly identified as such by the use of a replay wipe and slow motion.”  UEFA added in its email to iMediaEthics that “It is clearly specified in our editorial guidelines, established with consultation of our broadcast partners and shared with them, that replays concerning a match event have to be only related to that match event.”

The press office also noted that

“It is important to remember that our production delivers far more than this unique feed (diverted cameras, multiple feeds, clips, allowing multiple views of what happens) and is controlled and witnessed by a lot of broadcasters on site, by fans in the stadium that can see themselves, by more than 200 broadcasters outside, and several hundreds of journalists onsite: images manipulation are not desired and simply impossible.”

The Sun quoted the woman pictured crying — identified only by the name Andrea — as saying she is “amazed and angry” at the editing, and that she had teared up because she “was overwhelmed at the presentation before the kick-off.”

The two German TV stations complained about the misleading UEFA footage, the Guardian noted. ZDF’s head of sport Dieter Gruschwitz called the editing “no way acceptable” and “without a doubt a manipulation,” and ARD’s Jörg Schönenborn said “we are incredulous and annoyed,” according to the Guardian. The Sydney Morning Herald added that ZDF’s editor-in-chief Peter Frey noted the editing violates ZDF’s “journalistic standards.”

The BBC, which aired the video on BBC1, sent iMediaEthics this statement from a BBC spokesperson: “We are aware of this and we will be speaking to UEFA about it.”

Further, Digital Spy noted that UEFA also used pre-game footage of a coach “playfully knocking a ball from a ball boy’s hand” during live coverage of the game.

In that case, UEFA said to iMediaEthics the “recorded image” was used “to illustrate, in conformity with our editorial concept, the mood and ambiance of the event. The image was positive and in order not to mislead the audience, the director used replay wipes before and after, showing clearly that this event was not live. It is relatively standard that directors use replays for illustration purposes.”

UEFA noted that the “replay wipes” in this tape altering were “not sufficient” and that it has since “instructed our team that in addition to wipes, slow motion would also be mandatory for using similar actions/ reactions; as well to avoid having them ‘personalized.'”

We’ve written to ESPN, and ZDF for more information and will update with any response.  We’ve also written to WDR, which “is responsible for [ARD’s] coverage about the Euro 2012” at ARD’s recommendation.  We will update with any response.

See here our other stories on Euro 2012.

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UEFA Altered Euro2012 Footage to Show Pre-Game Video during Games, Calls it ‘Human Error’

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