Soccer host Schiller: Noisy stadium caused trainwreck but we don’t deserve Twitter lynch mob

The host of Wednesday night’s widely derided ABC coverage of the Sydney versus Liverpool match has addressed the controversy, saying fans should have treated the broadcast in the fun spirit it was intended.

Schiller: Speakers in the stadium were extremely loud

Speaking on his drivetime show on ABC Radio Adelaide last night, Julian Schiller attacked the Twitter “lynch mob”, said he was not ashamed of the chaotic coverage, and that the stadium was unexpectedly noisy.

The broadcast – which was only watched by 174,000 metro viewers when it aired on Wednesday night – later created anger among soccer fans who felt it was disrespectful of the game featuring a visit from the English Premier League team.

A crestfallen sounding Schiller told listeners last night: “This was something the ABC picked up quite quickly. There wasn’t a lot of prep time for this, but the ABC thought it was a game worth broadcasting. I’m not sure they would have had a free-to-air broadcaster if they hadn’t done it.

“It was deemed cringeworthy at times. The A League has said it was unacceptable. Some people have said it was unforgivable.

“You get to the centre of a Twitter hate storm and it’s not a pleasant thing. I’ve been in it a couple of times because Twitter is like a roast without any of the funny lines. It’s just a stacks on. There are vile comments made about cancer and terrorism that come your way. It gets ugly.

“And the crime you have committed apparently. Yet the crimes that are committed on Twitter are far worse, but no-one really mentions those Tweets.

Citing technical issues, Schiller went on to say: “When  you do live TV, it is extremely hard, even in a studio, and you see newsreaders stuff up all the time when things don’t roll, they have that shocked stare at a camera when things don’t work.

Natasha Exelby was caught out on ABC News 24 earlier in the year

“We were doing it outside where it’s even harder. And what happened was the ABC2 team did a rehearsal which was kind of fine and when we went live to air there were speakers in the stadium which were extremely loud, which meant that any communication I was trying to get with the producer, I couldn’t really hear that well. And the panellists who were trying to talk to each other couldn’t really hear each other well.

“It’s like trying to land a plane in the dark without your instruments. You’re just massaging the joystick and hoping for the best.

“I tried to keep it on track as much as I could with that noise pollution and it definitely affected the quality of the broadcast. That was unexpected.”

Schiller also argued that criticism of the the playful tone of the broadcast was unfair, given that it was an exhibition game, with little at stake.

Schiller used a whiteboard as a comedy prop

One of Schiller’s links to soccer come through a regular comedic slot created by him and Sam Mac for Fox Sports called The B League.

He said: “A lot of people have said it was disrespectful because it had a comedic bent to it. I would never have done a broadcast like that if it was a game that meant something, for points.

“This was a mixture of an exhibition game and a slowdown. It was a celebration of football – there was never a lot of point of going through lineups and tactics.

“What happened last night was an attempt to maybe make it fun. Football is not only to be revered, it’s also to be enjoyed. It’s not a religion, it’s entertainment.”

He conceded: “I don’t think we got it completely right, definitely.”

He added: “The bizarre thing is, this interview has gone viral. Even though there were some big problems with the broadcast, it wasn’t a vital game and it’s got attention.”

Schiller challenged football fans who had attacked him on social media, saying: “Some of it was just a little unfair. Yes it was cringeworthy in parts because things went wrong but everyone had a great spirit and a great love of football.

“I ask football fans what’s your end game in this? You turn on people who are trying to do the best job they can to promote football with little resources and just really mucking around. I don’t see where your end game is.

“I understand you get angry when people call you hooligans. To turn on each other with the hatred that we have today. I say to football fans that the next time somebody sticks their head above the parapet and does something positive and funny about football, maybe put down your baseball bats and maybe put down your nooses, back the lynch mob off and let football enjoy itself, even if it’s a trainwreck like last night.

“But cut out the anger and cut out the insults.”

He concluded: “I’m not ashamed to have been part of it.”

It is not the first time the ABC has been slammed when it has tried to bring humour to a live event. In 2015, the ABC’s broadcast of the build up to the New Year’s Eve fireworks was widely ridiculed.


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