EURO 2012

UEFA 'manipulated' live Euro coverage

UEFA is in hot water after airing pre-recorded video in the live broadcast of Germany-Italy.
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BERLIN (AP)

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UEFA has come under fire in Germany for allowing prerecorded scenes to be cut into live coverage of games from the European Championships.

Images of a German fan crying after Mario Balotelli's second goal in Thursday's 2-1 defeat to Italy were in fact taken before the semifinal, when she was overcome with emotion during the anthems.

The issue came to light when the woman received e-mails from friends at home wondering why she was so upset with almost an hour still to play.

''We are surprised and irritated,'' Joerg Schoenenborn, the Euro 2012 chief editor of German broadcaster ARD, told Saturday's Sueddeutschen Zeitung newspaper. ''These pictures aren't acceptable for us, especially since we spoke to UEFA about this problem a few days ago. We're now looking for further talks.''

UEFA told The Associated Press that it was striving to show ''the human story of the game'' in its television coverage, and had ''no aim whatsoever to exercise any form of control over the images delivered to broadcasters.''

European football's ruling body said footage of tears trickling down the fan's cheek was shown ''to translate the emotion and the tension of the German fans for this game'' but ''our production did not agree with the editorial choice to put this at this exact place after the goal''.

UEFA also said it had issued instructions ''not to use these reactions again directly in a chain of replays of a live action, to avoid any misleading understanding.''

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ARD had first sought UEFA's clarification after Germany coach Joachim Loew was shown playfully knocking a ball from a ball boy's arm during the country's group game against Netherlands, despite the incident happening before the game took place.

UEFA said that footage was shown ''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.''

Schoenenborn felt otherwise at the time, when he said: ''Any form of censorship or manipulation is not acceptable for us. That's why 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.''

UEFA said its ''director guidelines'' had been made available to all broadcasters.

But ZDF, which broadcast the Germany vs. Netherlands game, said it was unaware pre-match footage was being shown as part of the live match package. The channel's chief of sports, Dieter Gruschwitz, described it as ''completely unusual.''

''That does not correspond to our journalistic standards,'' ZDF editor-in-chief Peter Frey said.

''All these production techniques ... are fairly standard and well known by broadcasters,'' UEFA said.

Sueddeutschen Zeitung reported that UEFA maintains a policy of censorship in its TV coverage, avoiding any images of political banners, empty seats, pyrotechnics or streakers on the pitch.

''UEFA is committed to deliver an unbiased and complete coverage,'' the football body said.

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