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FIFA's TV Coverage of World Cup Underwhelms

fifa logo FIFA's TV Coverage of World Cup Underwhelms

FIFA, what are you doing?

With a global population that is so used to the quality of the Premier League coverage on television, it’s ridiculous that FIFA’s TV replays are so poor. How many times in this tournament have we already been frustrated with the lack of TV replays after crucial incidents? Even though the tournament is just a few days old, it happened again today after Miroslav Klose’s horrible miss in front of goal in the first half against Australia. And it’s happened in several of the other games where we, as TV viewers, have to wait a few agonizing minutes before a replay of the incident is shown.

On top of that, it seems that FIFA is either using less cameras than a typical Premier League match or they’re not using the different cameras as well as they should. The perfect example of this was the offside decision in the game between Mexico and South Africa. There was a replay, but the camera angle was not impressive. And we longed to see a different angle to make our decision, as TV viewers, easier.

It’s almost as if FIFA doesn’t have a clue. Or, more likely, that the production crew working on the games are nowhere near the level of what we’re accustomed to seeing in the Premier League. The shame of the matter is that the TV networks around the world are handicapped by FIFA’s international feed. TV networks, such as ESPN, are not in control of the TV feed and have to rely on FIFA to provide the best possible experience. I’ve lost count how many times so far this tournament when I’ve been screaming at the TV set because of either poor production or an amateurish camera angle.

For a tournament of this calibre, it’s crucial that FIFA delivers a quality product on television. So far, their performance – much like England’s – has been severely lacking.

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About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013.
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18 Responses to FIFA's TV Coverage of World Cup Underwhelms

  1. Jake Islas says:

    I absolutely agree. They seem to be quick to show replays of every other little thing, such as minor fouls, but not for significant things like you mentioned such as offside calls and goal attempts. I was thinking about how fast they are, actually faster than normal, in showing a replay. But like I said, it’s only on insignificant plays, and as we’ve learned, it takes minutes to show a replay of something important.

  2. Sean Smith says:

    I hate those horns they ruin the atmosphere of mi team SONG
    and I sitting on the coach…. Fricken horns like flies around mi… They should take the world cup to another country now… Let’s go

    • Machojesus says:

      It’s like being in some bizarre alternate universe where every game is being played inside a giant bee hive or hornet nest.

  3. Pakapala says:

    LOL! You just do not miss any chance to big up your EPL, do you The Gaffer? Yes we know the EPL offer the best TV coverage experience and they’re miles ahead of La Liga, Serie A and Bundesliga combined, even better they’re miled ahead of all the afromentioned leagues in Europe and FIFA combined! Yeah!

  4. Seminole Gunner says:

    I’ve been disappointed as well, especially when you consider that this was supposed to be the best presented World Cup of all time.

    This could just be my ears playing tricks on me, but I think the vuvuzelas have really thrown ESPN-ABC for a loop. The audio doesn’t sound quite as good as it usually does when the commentators are at the game, but still sounds a little better than when they are calling the game from a studio.

  5. brn442 says:

    Maybe because it’s in HD, I haven’t been too bothered by the direction, and to be honest – the direction of some Premiere League matches are sometimes god awful (showing the replays of the keeper making a routine save as a counter-attack in in progress etc). Yes, they could definitely do a better job but I wouldn’t say that it’s “severely lacking”

  6. Grant says:

    Gaffer, while I agree with your points and can feel for your frustration, I’m afraid you’re missing the point. FIFA, as the organizing body, is trying to protect its officials by failing to provide a perfectly in-line angle for offside decisions. This is akin to how MLB pressures the American networks into providing a slightly off angle for balls and strikes in their games. ESPN experimented with a camera angle that was directly behind the pitcher several years ago, but it made it too easy for fans to see if the umpire was having a bad game behind the plate. Part of the reason that FIFA wants broadcasters to use the standard FIFA feed is because they’re trying to keep themselves from having a controversial mistake beemed directly to 5 billion people.

    • The Gaffer says:

      Grant, good points. I would hope that FIFA would be more transparent and would show the replay immediately after an incident. But, knowing FIFA, I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s an additional level of review before they decide whether a replay should be shown. Or maybe that’s the conspiracy theorist in me?

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

  7. David says:

    You want more replays? The US game was nothing but replay after replay. I don’t think I saw one goal kick as they took every opportunity to show a slooooooo-mo replay of what ever struck there fancy. I must have saw Fabio Capello in slow motion at least 5 times. More replays is the last thing I want.

    • The Gaffer says:

      David, I don’t want more replays. I just want the replays that matter — the ones that we really want to see that involve a controversial decision — to be played immediately after the play finishes.. and not to interrupt with the game itself.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

  8. tilly says:

    How many cameras cover each world cup football match? I reckon about 50, my friend Sebastian thinks there are 20.

    Why do men like football? Is it because you are all closet gays?

  9. LFerr says:

    I have access to three different channels showing matches (ESPN-USA, Univision in Spanish, and the Canadian CBC) and was shocked to find they were all using the same video feed. Is that normal for a World Cup? I had hoped different nations and networks would have different feeds.

    I don’t have too many complaints about the FIFA feed – I do like the Spider cams – but the commentators seem cast adrift sometimes, saying things like “I hope they show us…” which doesn’t help.

    And hell yeah, I wish that every vuvuzela in the stadium would be stuck up its blower’s arse. The South Africans are embarassing the rest of Africa by calling them ‘traditional African instruments’. Drums are ‘traditional African instruments’, but the African drummers in the crowd are being drowned out by these dumb hornets that were only introduced into South African football in the 1990s. They are unknown (before this WC) in West, North, and East Africa.

    I have no trouble with vuvuzelas been seen as the symbol of the 2010 World Cup – but they should be just seen and not heard.

  10. jeramiah says:

    at least you have coverage , in New Zealand , we are totally geoblocked to view websites that replay games, like sbs in australia, if i want to watch the world cup i have to go to a pub that closes at 12 midnight , when all the games start! the other alternative is to pay over $1500 for sky tv , but the cheapest and get this , is for me to fly to australia to melbourne from auckland and enjoy live coverage in every street shop. If anyone has more links to game replays PLEEEEASE post it .
    suffering in NZ

  11. phil da thrill says:

    TOTALLY DISAGREE ….I LUV the coverage and replays that we’ve been seeing recently. Typically show 3 or 4 different angles and replays …GREAT JOB FIFA !!!

  12. tilly says:

    England have played hideously, me and Sebastian are rooting for Cameroon to win, aren’t we Seb?
    It’s all a load of old tosh, and the noise….!

  13. fickfufa says:

    fifas coverage is basically dreadful because their sole interest is to keep as many “official fifa partners” (i.e. the crap around the advertising hoardings) in-shot as long as possible, and to hell with the viewers, hence the “giant bee hive” effect mentioned by Machojesus above. This comment was also a fairly accurate summary of the situation to date. Most coverage is equivalent to watching from a helicopter at both an odd angle and an uncomfortable height, with the vuvezelas only adding to the effect..

    Has also nothing to do with the “standard of EPL” TV coverage, number of cameras or anything else, it is exactly the same dreadful, commercially cynical bollox worldwide. It remains positively the worst filmed football tournament I have ever witnessed, and no joke.

    The problem is not one of “amateur” angles either, FIFA know exactly what they are doing, and what they are doing is screwing us, the punters, out of any halfway enjoyable chance of viewing the game.

    Should you feel I am exaggerating, please, check out any action on the near touchline. A close up on the players? – not a chance. Given any opportunity whatsoever, this will be shot with the “action” bottom screen, tha advertising hoardings mid (and thus in subconcious audience focus), leavinga half-filled screen of a completely useless stadium faudience fill.

    As I said, completely cynical commercially-motivated crap. FIFA, in their greed, are ruining the goddamn game for us, the watching fans – high time someone told them where to stick both their and their sponsors bollox and demanded some proper coverage of the action on the park. It really, really, is beyond a joke, they are single-handedly ruining the entire tournament and, no, nor am I exaggerating either.

  14. Dr David Waugh says:

    I recall the coverage of Italia 90, which really was dreadful, with shots from outside the ground. but the present coverage is by far the worst in football history. Endless repalys, each with a finale of slow motion shots of fans, players or mamgers, mean we return to matches only to find someone about to shoot at goal. It’s very clear that producers know nothing about football and want to create a drama rather than record a match. The one good thing about England’s abject elimintaion is that I won’t have to watch any of this rubbish any more. Even ITV’s coverage is better than this!

  15. nikbj says:

    TV replays almost entirely disappeared during the second half of the Argentina-Mexico match.

    We never got to see a replay of Argentina’s clearing of Mexico’s goal attempt (about 69th minute). Why not? Was the decision another mistake, or do they just not want us to be able to see for ourselves anything potentially controversial?

    Was a FIFA official standing over the shoulder of the TV editor?

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