People across the world were touched when cameras zoomed in on a German fan in the crowd crying after Mario Balotelli put Italy two goals ahead in the first half of their match last week.
ESPN commentator Adrian Healey even referred to the woman as he covered the game for American TV, saying it was “too early for tears” since there was the best part of an hour left in which the sparky Germans could fight their way back into the match.
There was just one problem: the woman – a fan from Dusseldorf called Andrea – hadn’t started crying at all, and was stunned to receive text messages from friends back home asking why she was blubbing with so much football left to play.
It turns out that Andrea had actually been overcome by emotion during the singing of the German national anthem before the match. The footage was recorded, then cut into the live feed sent to broadcasters around the world after the Italians went 2-0 up.
It turns out that it was not the only instance of UEFA pulling such a stunt: they also broadcast footage of Germany coach Joachim Loew jokingly pinching a ball from a ball boy during the group stage match against the Netherlands. It turned out that Loew wasn’t relaxed and having fun during a key match against arch-rivals, but merely joshing with him during the pre-match warm-up.
Broadcasters claim to have been oblivious to what was going on, with German TV stations in particular furious with the way the pictures had been manipulated.
“We clearly told UEFA that the German public expects coverage to be live when it says it’s live. Live is live and has to stay live,” said ARD’s Joerg Schoenenborn. “Any form of censorship or manipulation is not acceptable.”
UEFA later issued a statement to the Associated Press in which, like a surly teenager, it mixed an unconvincing explanation with a half-hearted apology. The organisation claims it was trying to show “the human story of the game… to translate the emotion and tension of German fans”, but had now issued instructions “not to use these reactions again directly in a chain of replays of live action, to avoid any misleading understanding”.