FOX Sports is faking their soccer announcers being at stadiums in England during UEFA Champions League broadcasts.
For the second Champions League gameweek in a row, the US broadcaster has gone to elaborate measures to trick viewers into thinking that their announcers are in the stadium when they are, in fact, in a studio in California. The first time they did this was during the first leg of the UEFA Champions League game between Manchester City and Monaco where both John Strong and Stu Holden pretended to be in the stadium calling the game.
It happened again on Tuesday for FOX Sports’ broadcast of Arsenal against Bayern Munich during the pre-game UEFA Champions League show.
What FOX Sports is doing is putting commentators John Strong and Stu Holden in front of a green screen, and then posting a live video shot on the green screen behind them. FOX Sports has been positioning the camera to make it look like Strong and Holden are at the stadium. The talent has even gone to the length of dressing up in shirts, ties and jackets instead of the typical casual clothes they wear when they’re calling the game off the monitor.
In addition to the visual tricks that FOX Sports has been using to mislead viewers, commentator John Strong has been saying things during broadcasts that make the viewer think they’re in the stadium. For example, in the video below, Strong mentioned on-air “Geoff Shreeves is with us down on the field” when he asked him what the atmosphere was like outside the stadium. Also, during the Arsenal-Bayern Munich match, Strong mentioned how he had seen and heard protests against Wenger before the game, but both Strong or Holden were holed up in the FOX Sports studio in Los Angeles.
While it’s quite normal for broadcasters to call soccer games off the monitor instead of being in a stadium, reputable broadcasters don’t pretend that their talent is at the stadium.
FOX Sports was reached for comment and asked why the broadcaster is faking their broadcasters being at stadiums in England, Unfortunately, FOX Sports didn’t respond.
Since FOX Sports refused to respond to our request, we can only guess that FOX Sports is attempting to find ways to match NBC Sports’ level of soccer coverage. However, NBC employs a team of talent that are actually in the stadiums they’re broadcasting from.
Not only is it reprehensible for FOX Sports to employ the tactic of trying to trick viewers into thinking that their talent is at the game, but it’s also damaging to the careers of FOX Sports’ two brightest stars when it comes to soccer — John Strong and Stu Holden. It cheapens their image and makes it feel like they’re lying to the audience.
Both Strong and Holden are accomplished professionals when it comes to announcing, so there’s no need for FOX Sports to sink to cheap tricks to try to elevate their coverage. Few people are going to think any less of FOX Sports and Strong/Holden if they’re calling the game off the monitor. But if the broadcasters dress up and are positioned to make it look like they’re in the stadium, it destroys the level of trust we have between the broadcaster and the viewer. In a time of fake news, we don’t need or want FOX Sports faking their announcers being in stadiums when they’re obviously not there.