From robot drummers to sex dolls

What happens in stadiums without fans.

Livening up the sport without fans is a challenge for competitions returning after the coronavirus, and organizers have tried several ways to make empty stadiums more appealing.

After South Korean football club FC Seoul received a record fine for using sex dolls to fill seats, here are some of the innovations:

From robot drummers to sex dolls

Robot drummers

Sport took a surreal twist when Taiwan’s baseball league started last month, with robots providing live music as they drummed in the stands.

In what could have been a scene from Star Wars, a group of robots—some wearing wigs—banged drums for Rakuten Monkeys’ opening game.

Mannequins wearing team colors were placed around the stadium, along with cardboard cut-outs of fans, media and players’ family members.

Crowd sourcing

Cardboard cut-outs have been a popular way to fill seats, but German football club Borussia Moenchengladbach took the idea a step further when it gave fans the chance to have life-sized images of themselves in the stands.

Thousands of people have taken up the offer, where they pay 19 euros to have their image placed in the Borussia-Park stadium. 

“The campaign organizers are regularly overrun with orders – we can hardly keep up trying to install them all,” fan representative Thomas Weinmann told the Bundesliga website.

Piped noise

The sound of tinny, recorded cheering has replaced the roar of the crowd in some stadiums. In South Korea’s K-League, recordings of popular chants have echoed around the country’s empty football venues, some of which hosted games at the 2002 World Cup.

Meanwhile, TV viewers of Australian Rules football will hear pre-recorded crowd noises laid over the match footage when games return next month.

“We’ve had a number of different trials and consulted a number of people, including from the movie business, just to get it right,” Lewis Martin, managing director of broadcaster Channel Seven, told

Sex dolls

Much controversy has been generated by South Korea’s FC Seoul, who received a 100 million won ($81,000) fine – the biggest in K-League history—for placing sex dolls in their stadium.

After reviewing the case, the K-League accepted FC Seoul’s claim that it did not know the mannequins were sex toys, but said it “could have easily recognized their use using common sense and experience.”

“The controversy over this ‘real doll’ incident has deeply humiliated and hurt women fans (and) damaged the integrity of the league,” it said.

FC Seoul accepted the decision, apologized, and promised to prevent a repeat. 

Topics: FC Seoul , sex dolls , K-League , coronavirus pandemic , robot drummers
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