Artificial Pitch: Football and Television

Artificial pitch: football and television
Film critic Yuri Gladilschikov talks about how TV and sports have changed each other
Artificial pitch: football and television
Film critic Yuri Gladilschikov talks about how TV and sports have changed each other
Football is a purely sporting phenomenon, which does not prevent the representatives of the creative world from looking for a source of inspiration in it. Read about the connection between the planet's most popular game and art in a special project by Welcome2018.
Television has helped football become the most spectacular sporting event in the world. And football helped television to gain unthinkable ratings.

If you have a TV set, you must have watched football at least once. In the modern world sport and TV are unlikely to exist without each other.

True, this symbiosis was forming gradually: television emerged later than football, and then remained in its infancy for a long time.
Origins: radio
In the early twentieth century, when football was broadcast only on the radio, there were no media screens and monitors, and commentators had to watch the game through binoculars. The photo depicts Americans Graham McNamee (with a microphone) and Phillips Carlin (with binoculars)
At first live broadcasts of football matches went exclusively on the radio. The role of the commentator, of course, was different than now. He did not have to analyse as much as he had to describe the game in full detail: who sent a pass to whom, etc.

Radio, by the way, was also a little late. The first ever broadcast of a football match took place on October 8, 1926, notably, not in England, birthplace of the game, not in Germany, not in Italy, but in Eastern Europe: MTK Budapest FC played with SK Slavia Prague.
First commentator
In 1929 Vadim Sinyavsky, beloved by the whole country, became the father of football commenting in the USSR
It was the radio that gave birth to the first famous commentator in the USSR. No, not Nikolay Ozerov, as some will think. Ozerov, Moscow Art Theater actor and Honored Master of Sports in Tennis, became the chief football commentator in the 1960s and 70s, already in the era of television, and made his debut in 1950. He covered eight world championships and six European. He also covered thirty Ice Hockey World Championships and many Olympic Games.

But the father of football commenting became Vadim Sinyavsky, beloved by the whole country. On May 26, 1929 he was the first in the USSR to cover on the radio the football match between Russian and Ukrainian national teams. We are used to thinking that only now young football experts have appeared in Russia, but Sinyavsky was then 22 years old. In 1935, for the first time in the USSR, he conducted a live football coverage from abroad telling about the meeting of the national teams of the Soviet Union and Turkey.
In the distant 1935, the players of our national team returned on a steamer "Chicherin" from Istanbul to Odessa. During the storm, the ship was stuck on an underwater shoal near the Romania's Cape Midia. The players gathered in the messroom of a carrening, wave-flooded vessel. The silence was disturbed by the echoing dashes of storm waves on the shipside, and a strange drumming somewhere very close. It turned out that one of the forwards had feverishly trembling knees. Sinyavsky, taking a soft pillow from the couch, put it very delicately between the player's knees. "Your knees, Vasya, are state treasure," Vadim said very seriously at the time, "Keep them safe, they will prove useful."
During the Great Patriotic War, Sinyavsky's voice became as famous as the voice of Yuri Levitan. Sinyavsky was on the front line, and at the flashpoints: in besieged Sevastopol, Stalingrad, at the Battle of Kursk. He kept covering under fire, was seriously wounded, and lost his eye. But it was with his gaze that the audience saw two famous parades along Red Square: in the snow-covered besieged Moscow on November 7, 1941 and the Victory Parade on June 24, 1945.

And it was Sinyavsky, yesterday still at the front, who held the most famous football coverage of the war. The USSR Championship was not held during the war, but the Cup was resumed, and on August 27, 1944, in the final game that took place in Moscow, Zenit (then from Leningrad and not Saint Petersburg) defeated СDKA (now CSKA).

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Tele-revolution: broadcasts, live broadcasts and play repetitions
The first football broadcast in the USSR took place on April 9, 1938; the first live broadcast was on June 29, 1949; and in the 1970s football on TV already became a common occurrence
Vadim Sinyavsky commented on the first match, shown live on Soviet TV. This happened on June 29, 1949. Dynamo and CDKA met at the stadium in Petrovsky Park, which is now under reconstruction. CDKA won 4-1.
The author of the first goal, scored in the USSR live on TV, was the legendary Grigory Fedotov (the father of the famous player and coach Vladimir Fedotov), in whose honor a symbolic club was later founded, which includes players who scored one hundred or more goals in official matches. In the same game for the first time in the USSR, a penalty was appointed live on TV.

Sports TV coverages began a little earlier abroad. It is believed that their start was the Summer Olympics in Germany in 1936, which, alas, became one of the triumphs of fascism. It is also believed that it was then that a new technology was used, which made it possible to quickly repeat the most acute moments.

But the first actual football TV broadcast was held only on April 9, 1938. It was a one-time occurrence at that time. But the championship was finally owned by the country of football's birth: there was a broadcast of the final game of the FA Cup, in which two once-powerful teams, Huddersfield Town and Preston North End, clashed.

Spartak's forward of the 1940s Grigory Fedotov with his son Volodya. Copy by TASS Photo Сhronicles, 1981
1960s: qualitative leap
The revolution in football TV broadcasts began in the 1960s with the emergence of color television standards
Up until the end of the 1960s, the relations between TV and football remained in its infancy. There are at least two reasons:
1
Small screens of TV sets and, in fact, insufficient number of TV sets in homes. A TV set remained luxury even in the most developed countries: in the United States, Great Britain, Japan, France, and Germany. In the USSR back in the 1950s it was common that the rare owners of luxury – a small TV set – had relatives, friends, neighbors gathered for the most interesting programmes.
1
Small screens of TV sets and, in fact, insufficient number of TV sets in homes. A TV set remained luxury even in the most developed countries: in the United States, Great Britain, Japan, France, and Germany. In the USSR back in the 1950s it was common that the rare owners of luxury – a small TV set – had relatives, friends, neighbors gathered for the most interesting programmes.
2
The lack of color television, that created separate problems for football teams. After all, it had to be taken into account that green, blue, brown and red T-shirts in black and white look equally gray. It was necessary to clearly agree: if one team was in dark clothes, then the other had to be in white. Goalkeepers always played in black. Otherwise, the viewer would have been confused as to who was who.
2
The lack of color television, that created separate problems for football teams. After all, it had to be taken into account that green, blue, brown and red T-shirts in black and white look equally gray. It was necessary to clearly agree: if one team was in dark clothes, then the other had to be in white. Goalkeepers always played in black. Otherwise, the viewer would have been confused as to who was who.
Color TV standards arose in the 1950s and 1960s: the American NTSC, the West German PAL, the Franco-Soviet SECAM. But, surprisingly, the first football match in color was shown only on November 15, 1969. And once again in England: Liverpool played with West Ham. It was not a live broadcast, but a recording. But then immediately the first world championship demonstrated in color took place in Mexico in 1970.
Liverpool vs. West Ham, November 15, 1969. The first football match shown on TV in color
By the way, broadcasts from the world championships, which were allowed in the USSR despite the Cold War, strongly influenced the popularisation of the image of the West in the minds of Soviet people. That was because since the 1970s football was played better in the West, the Soviet fans found there idols, and everyone wanted it to be in the USSR like it was there. At least regarding football. In addition, everyone saw how foreign fans, including common hard workers, freely travel around the world, while for Soviet citizens it was out of their reach – in regards to money and because of an unofficial ban on leaving the country.
Turn of the century: new technologies
Nowadays, up to 20 cameras can be used in the most interesting matches. In the photo: Diego Maradona and the Spidercam
On January 31, 2010 (we will immediately jump a quarter-century ahead) again in England, the first broadcasted in 3D was conducted. It was a game between Arsenal and Manchester United. But 3D is a technology that has a long way to go.

Perhaps even more curious is how they began to shoot football in the 1990s, and especially since the 2000s. Today it is possible to watch a football match on TV in such details, with repetitions and particularities that are not available at the stadium (although watching football live is completely different experience with nothing to compare).
- What are the most important moments that the director should pay attention to during the broadcast?

- All the moments are very important. If there is a violation, it is necessary to show who violated, who was violated, the reaction of the coach, the team that suffered, the emotions of the referee, the emotions of the players who are arguing around the judge, the emotions of the fans. After the scored goal, one may dismiss the reaction of the coach of the team that scored, but it is a must to show the reaction of the coach of the team that missed the goal. It may be written on his face that everything went wrong just because of that moment."
There are cinematic legends of how many cameras Lars von Trier used in his "Dancing in the Dark", and Martin Scorsese in Shine a Light documentary about The Rolling Stones concert. Sometimes it is said that there were about one hundred cameras.

Football is not yet shot by a hundred cameras. But the fact that the best football shootings are produced with the help of more than twenty is a fact. And there are various kinds of cameras: flying cameras with a view from above, which appeared in the 2000s (and there are also shootings from a helicopter circling around the stadium), Super Slow-Mo cameras, showing delayed repetitions, cameras behind the gate, which make it possible to clearly see which part of the gate was hit by the ball and where the goalkeeper rushed at that time. Microphones are placed around the field, so that the coaches' cries and the players' exclamations are audible.
Football as a TV show: a lot of advertising and big money
Today's football is not only sport, but a real TV show. To some extent, even the rules are adjusted according to this principle
TV did its part. Football began attracting large businesses. Every broadcast is now full of advertising – both on the screen and on the field itself.

Thanks to TV, football has become a big show and a big business. The civilized world watches the best championships and supports foreign teams. Advertising the arrival of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United, or Bayern Munich in China or the United States causes great excitement. Last time the finals of the World Cup were watched by a 1.25 billion viewers from all over the world.

Yes, superclubs earn not only on the sale of rights to broadcasting of their games, but also on tickets, T-shirts of leading players, souvenirs, advertising, UEFA bonuses, etc., which allows them to spend huge money on top players, and mini-clubs earn mainly on the sale of young talents. But if it were not for TV, T-shirts, souvenirs, and tickets, the advertising alone would not bring that much income.

Football, in its turn, also started fitting with the television. A number of changes were introduced to the rules, which allowed the game to become more dynamic. It became impossible to give the ball back to the goalkeeper with a foot (that is, actually possible, but the goalkeeper is not allowed to take the ball in his hands). More than one ball became accessible during the match compared to what it used to be when a ball flew to the stands, and the players had to wait until its return: if the ball goes out of bounds, the nearest reserve ball is used to continue the game. By the way, the first time a game with several balls was conducted as a means against time delaying tactics during the Soviet championship of the 1970s. And across the globe one-ball games continued. But the number of balls in the Soviet championship was limited to three.
At home and at the stadium: how TV changed the cheering culture
Thanks to the development of television broadcasts around the world, the cheering culture has changed. In particular, football has become much more popular with women
Let us note two more facts. The first one: TV has cultivated the fans. Yes, zealous fans are still a problem. But the spectator in the stands has changed. In front of millions of people it is embarrassing to behave badly. In addition, several decades ago, for example, in Krasnodar, in the context of the enslaved USSR, for men the football tribune was a space of freedom, where they could at least drink a little (then the militia was not so strict) and loudly swear. And that, under the Krasnodar ethics of those times, was not for women's eyes and ears. Today, even women with babies are sitting in the stands of the new Krasnodar Stadium, cheering for their preferred club.
The second one: with all the transformation of football into a show, TV has strengthened the sports principles in the game. Now it is more difficult to inflate score marks. And the viewers can see all the controversial points. The current principle of electronic verification of controversial moments (which has already been tested at the FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017 and will operate during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™) is undoubtedly generated by numerous judicial errors evident in watching the match on TV, often unintentional: it is difficult for judges to track all the points from the field level.
Epilogue: more than sports
According to statistics, the sales of new TV sets always increase before the World Cup
TV has helped to transform football into something more than just sports. Today, this is a super show for billions of viewers, the highlight of which are World Cups every four years.

Programmes about and around football play here their part.

In the Soviet times there were almost no programmes, except for the weekly Football Review on Channel One, which from 1980 to 1999 was led primarily by Vladimir Pereturin and Vladimir Maslachenko. Now football on TV is analysed and discussed by numerous experts both before and after matches, and even during matches, in breaks.

In general, nowadays fans certainly have something to expect from the upcoming World Cup. At least amazing broadcasts of a truly new generation.
Photo credit:
Bettmann / getty images, Anatoly Bochinin, Anatoly Rukhadze / TASS News Agency, Hudson / Getty Images, Mike Hewitt - FIFA / FIFA via Getty Images, Clive Rose / Getty Images, Sergey Bobylev / Tass, Chris Ratcliffe / Bloomberg via Getty Images, Vyacheslav Evdokimov