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Does Augmented Crowd Noise in Soccer Work?

After an extended hiatus due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, European soccer is finally back. The Premier League, La Liga, and Serie A are among the top leagues that begun resuming play last week, as a means of properly crowning this season’s league champions.

Given today’s “new normal,” all games are played behind closed doors with no stadium noise and extensive coronavirus examinations. 

While having no fans is obviously strange for the players on the pitch, I believe those watching the games at home are the ones needing the greater deal of adjustment.

The players have dealt with games at empty stadiums in some form in their career, whether it be for a club’s academy team or a training scrimmage, but the fans are used to a crowd atmosphere always being present for a team’s match.

Even if watching a game on TV, us fans make a point in embracing the noise brought by the home and even opposing crowds to make for a real match watching experience. Now we have to settle for empty seats that are covered by team and sponsor branding and an overall dry aroma surrounding the match.

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The television networks that are covering these matches across the globe have decided to implement a rather ambitious and innovative technology to make the fan experience feel a little bit more genuine through augmented crowd noise.

Networks have been able to extract real team-specific chants, cheers, and boos in addition to other forms of game noises from previous matches that only the audience at home can hear to make these “stale”matches more enjoyable.

While I must admit that the usage of this technology feels a lot more realistic than I could’ve ever expected, I personally feel that the removal of the system would add real intrigue to these games. 

Why do I argue this? Again, I don’t think the system is a failed one by any means, and frankly, I believe it is a good way of keeping casual fans tuned in.

I only propose that for true supporters of these clubs, hearing the managers screaming tactics, what the players tell each other on the pitch, and maybe even overhear some taunting between opposing players adds to a more “exclusive” match watching experience.

How do I know that taking away the added noise won’t put people to sleep? Let’s look at the UFC’s approach to the matter.

AP Photo

On the various pay-per-view and “Fight Night” events held by the UFC during this ongoing pandemic, they have opted against the usage of augmented noises during their fights.

Instead, they have allowed for the fans to listen to what the trainers tell their fighters during and in-between rounds, as well as having the ability to hear the noise of certain strikes and kicks inflicted.

This works like a “courtside seat experience” for us fans, as it allows for a better understanding of the intricacies of a fight as well as potentially learning one or two things about the nature of the sport that may have not been commonly known beforehand.

It should be noted that the nature of UFC broadcasts allows for the usage of explicit language, which makes the ability of providing this content a bit easier compared to that of the other major sports.

I believe that regardless of this concern though, fans should have the ability to access this noiseless experience on a mass scale. 

NBC is now offering an augmented sound free version of matches on their app and livestreaming service, but moving it to their main television broadcast would allow a broader audience to understand what the technical nature of soccer is like.

It may even inspire casual fans to explore the nature of the sport and become even more interested in watching it more often.


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