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UEFA criticised for 'doctoring' Euro 2012 coverage

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© Rex Features / olfgang Weinhaupl / WestEnd61

UEFA has been criticised for allowing pre-recorded footage to be used in live coverage of matches from the European Championships.

Images of a German fan crying supposedly after the team had conceded a second goal from Italy's Mario Balotelli in the semi-final last Thursday (June 28) were in fact shot before the game, it has emerged.

According to media reports, the fan was actually crying due to emotion over the German national anthem.

The doctoring of footage was revealed after the woman was emailed by friends at home asking why she was so upset when the German team still had almost an hour of play to overturn the two-goal deficit.

A commentator on US channel ESPN even said during the live coverage that it was "too early for tears".

Joerg Schoenenborn, the Euro 2012 chief editor of German broadcaster ARD, told the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper at the weekend that he was "surprised and irritated" by the doctored footage.

"These pictures aren't acceptable for us, especially since we spoke to UEFA about this problem a few days ago," he said. "We're now looking for further talks."

During the European Championships, UEFA supplies television pictures to all rights holders, including the BBC and ITV, who then apply their own graphics and presentation for their local audience.

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In a statement to The AP, UEFA said that it wanted to show "the human story of the game" in its coverage, and stressed that it had "no aim whatsoever to exercise any form of control over the images delivered to broadcasters".

Discussing the footage of the fan crying, UEFA said that it was included "to translate the emotion and the tension of the German fans for this game".

However, the football governing body did admit that its production team "did not agree with the editorial choice to put this at this exact place after the goal".

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

ARD had also asked UEFA why footage of Germany coach Joachim Löw playfully knocking a ball from a ball boy's hand was used during live coverage of the group clash with the Netherlands, when it actually was shot before the match.

In response, UEFA said that this was shown "to illustrate, in conformity with our editorial concept, the mood and ambience of the event".

The body added: "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."

However, Schoenenborn said at the time: "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."

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