The Germans call them Geisterspielenle, ghost games, definition that perfectly renders the idea of a noisy absence in the stands. In fact, it is played in stadiums that look like immense cathedrals, sadly emptied as in a post-apocalyptic scenario. But the public is only elsewhere, simply sheltered, in their own living room, where they are ready to be overwhelmed by fragments of cleverly packaged images that smell of normalcy. While the fourth wall is demolished with the technical artifact of the virtual sound, which returns to the viewer’s ear a sonic context that creates environment but is confusing, the eye only falls on the green rectangle thanks to the trick used by the director not to ‘detach’ with the cameras on the empty stands. A double deception that makes the vision of the event acceptable in and of itself, without ever being able to return its deeper meaning. In no game situation, in fact, it is natural to distinguish the Bundesliga cartel challenge from a summer friendly played in a corner of the planet disinterested in the fate of the two teams. Leaving aside the epilogue of the match, during which the values of the duelists emerged despite everything in this precise historical moment, the mother episode from slow motion, the elbow foul in the area of Boateng, which in other times would have detonated the protest of the Sudtribune, was bypassed by referee and Var with a sufficiently inversely proportional to the importance of the match. Symptom that we are facing a different game than the one before the lockdown. In this sense, some numbers come to support this thesis, still to be demonstrated: in the first two days since the restart of the German championship there were more passes (948 per game against 906) and less tackles (30 against 33), with a slower pace than the pre-pandemic one (data from Telegraph). Changes that may depend on the most disparate factors, the first of which – rather than the fear of contacts due to infections – the absence of the fans. Which also has an impact on the referees, as testified to ZDF by Deniz Aytekin, 41-year-old race director who ‘whistled’ in Borussia Dortmund-Schalke 04, on Revierderby least heard in history: “I had extremely low pulse rates compared to games played with the public. The emotions ensured by the presence of the fans were suddenly taken away from us, in the end we too live these passions “.
If on the field the atmosphere is as anesthetized, almost devoid of competition, the experience of the fans in front of the TVs is unsettling. Resuming the thread of a season interrupted due to force majeure is a mission to the limits of the impossible for those who are used to living the fate of this or that team as in a continuous flow that marks the times of their existence. Holograms now appear on the TV screens of these same people, three-dimensional images of players who seem to act as subjects, without the intensity that arises from a rivalry killed two months ago by the virus. The players are left with the free interpretation of a script that was written by a pull of scientists who have replaced the God of football, for the first time uninterested in the earthly affairs of the ball. The simulated normality in Germany will soon expand to much of Europe, celebrating the now-acclaimed superiority of TV over the whole football universe (the economic theme of TV rights remains central to the survival of the system also in Italy). Financial issue aside, it is evident that the football represented today on the small screen loses several degrees of authenticity, coming to look sinisterly like the shadows of Plato’s cave. The best that the world in 2020 can offer fans, prisoners within the four walls that stare at the screen in 4K to clearly see the dark side of their favorite sport. CoViD: it’s a different kind of football, as we wanted to show.