In scenes that would not look out of place in Black Mirror, the popular dystopian science fiction television show, professional football in Denmark made its return on Thursday as fans using Zoom watched and cheered on giant screens.
Thousands of Danish fans logged into the conferencing software and were transported into the Ceres Park stadium for a league game between AGF Aarhus and Randers that heralded the resumption of the country's pandemic-affected season.
While the stadium itself was without fans, the faces of thousands of supporters who joined the Zoom call were shown on giant screens that ran along one side of the field.
Families wearing club shirts and scarves cheered inside their living rooms. Some were seen clenching their fists in joy after Simon Piesinger scored from 40 yards to put Randers, the visiting team, ahead in the 36th minute. Aarhus equalised in stoppage time as the match finished 1-1.
Ahead of the game, Aarhus described the Zoom wall as the world’s first “virtual grandstand.” Crowd noise was piped in for the match and there were cardboard “spectators” in place in the stands.
Games are being played without spectators in Denmark, like in other countries, amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The Danish Superliga has been suspended since the middle of May.
FC Midtjylland, the league leader, play their first game back on Saturday at home against AC Horsens and is planning a “drive-in” where at least 2,000 supporters can watch the game from inside their cars outside the team’s MCH Arena.
Giant screens have been installed in the stadium’s parking lot and footage of the fans in their cars is set to be screened inside the arena.