While their rivals in Denmark’s top soccer league returned to action without the support of their fans this week, the players at Aarhus-based AGF could rely on the presence of at least 10,000 spectators for their game against a local rival, Randers.
Well, kind of.
In a test of a fan experience that may become more common in the post-pandemic age, AGF’s fans took in the game not the club’s home field, Ceres Park, but as part of a giant Zoom meeting arranged by the team. Through 90 minutes of ebb and flow action, their shouts were piped into the stadium’s loudspeakers and their faces were projected as a giant video wall of support as the Danish Superliga team sought a way for match-going fans to keep connected even as new hygiene protocols mean it may be several months before fans can set foot inside a stadium again.
The events are perhaps the best example yet of the innovation teams and leagues are being forced to consider as the sports industry grapples with ways to return to competition despite rules banning large public gatherings. For millions of people the world over, the cherished ritual of attending a favorite arena, ballpark or stadium has been upended.