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Piped noise to sex dolls: What organisers are doing to fill empty stadiums

In the absence of spectators, organisers have tried several ways -- Robot drummers, Baseball barbecue --- to make empty stadium more appealing

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sports | football | Coronavirus

BS Web Team & AFP  |  New Delhi and Hong Kong 

Sex dolls used as spectator by FC Seoul in South Korea football league
Sex dolls used as spectator by FC Seoul in South Korea football league. Photo: YouTube screengrab

South Korea's club FC Seoul were fined a record 100 million won ($81,000) for using sex dolls to fill seats at a match held behind closed doors.

The K-League officials said that the club had "deeply humiliated women fans".

With spectators barred because of the coronavirus, FC Seoul came under fire after dozens of dolls wearing T-shirts or holding placards with the logo of a sex-toy seller appeared at Sunday's game.

In the absence of spectators, organisers have tried several ways -- Robot drummers, Baseball barbecue --- to make empty stadium more appealing.

Here are some of the innovative ideas used by organisers:

Robot drummers

Sport took a surreal twist when Taiwan's baseball league started last month, with robots providing live music as they drummed in the stands. In what could have been a scene from Star Wars, a group of robots -- some wearing wigs -- banged drums for Rakuten Monkeys' opening game.

Mannequins wearing team colours were placed around the stadium, along with cardboard cut-outs of fans, media and players' family members.



Crowd sourcing

Cardboard cut-outs have been a popular way to fill seats, but German club Borussia Moenchengladbach took the idea a step further when it gave fans the chance to have life-sized images of themselves in the stands.

Thousands of people have taken up the offer, where they pay 19 euros to have their image placed in the Borussia-Park stadium.

"The campaign organisers are regularly overrun with orders -- we can hardly keep up trying to install them all," fan representative Thomas Weinmann told the Bundesliga website.





Piped noise

The sound of tinny, recorded cheering has replaced the roar of the crowd in some stadiums. In South Korea's K-League, recordings of popular chants have echoed around the country's empty football venues, some of which hosted games at the 2002 World Cup.

Meanwhile, TV viewers of Australian Rules football will hear pre-recorded crowd noises laid over the match footage when games return next month.

"We've had a number of different trials and consulted a number of people, including from the movie business, just to get it right," Lewis Martin, managing director of broadcaster Channel Seven, told AFL.com.au.


App-lause

Software developers have launched an app, MyApplause, which allows fans to combine to create crowd noise from their homes. Users can choose from cheering, clapping, chanting and whistling, and the resulting noise is played over the stadium loudspeakers and the spectators' home sound systems.

Team-specific logos and chants are available. South Korean baseball has also taken a high-tech approach with fans beamed onto a stadium big screen as they watch the game online.

Baseball barbecue

Baseball cheerleaders in Taiwan have been carrying out live interactions with fans from the stadiums, chatting and broadcasting dance routines over their mobile phones.

One cheerleader even cooked and ate a barbecue while sitting in the stands, while streaming herself on the internet. Taiwan's baseball league has enjoyed unaccustomed popularity during the coronavirus, with millions of sport-deprived fans watching English-language commentaries from overseas.



First Published: Thu, May 21 2020. 12:41 IST