A German football team embraced the idea of simulating a cheering section by placing cardboard spectators with realistic human faces in the stadium to replace absent fans.
Rabat – Several countries have allowed the resumption of sporting events with strict measures in place, including playing without spectators, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Athletes who are accustomed to spectators’ motivational cheers now find it unusual to play in empty stadiums. This prompted a creative initiative to simulate the presence of fans.
When the Taiwanese Baseball League started playing last month, robots stood in the stands instead of spectators, beating drums as baseball players started their game.
The Taiwan-based league was scheduled to begin on March 14, but it moved the opener to April 11 because of the pandemic.
In China, the baseball team Rakuten Monkeys, which plays in the professional league, has also adopted a similar action. They placed mannequins in the stadium’s seats with the team’s shirts during the league’s opening match.
For football, the German Football League’s (Bundesliga) Borussia Monchengladbach embraced the idea by placing cardboard spectators with realistic human faces in the stands to replace their absent fans.
— Borussia (@borussia) April 24, 2020
The Bundesliga resumed its season on May 16 with a match between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04.
Chairman of the German Football League (DFL) Christian Seifert had said on May 6 that the “great news … is associated with a great responsibility for the clubs and their employees to implement the medical and organizational requirements in a disciplined manner.”
Matches were initially set to take place without spectators in the stadiums. “We’ll all know after the first day of play why we like games with spectators much better,” said Seifert.
The Spanish government authorized the resumption of football training sessions only, which had been postponed since mid-March due to the European country’s severe COVID-19 outbreak.
The Spanish football league’s president, Javier Tebas, is hopeful matches will resume in June so the league can finish the 2019-2020 season this summer.