Soccer may be set to return, but its crowds will be virtual. That doesn't mean you can't still fill a stadium, or at least a home-viewing environment, with all the chants and cheers of a stadium though.
Sky Sports has announced some of the new innovations it will be making use of for the return of Premier League coverage on June 17. Among them is a partnership with Electronic Arts to utilize crowd noise and chants from the FIFA series to bring the "vibrant atmosphere" of the Premier League to the viewing experience. The noise is optional for viewers, though I can't imagine why I wouldn't want it.
Sports games have long had their own artificial crowd noise, but it's interesting seeing it come full-circle like this. The Premier League is set to return after a 100-day hiatus due to the coronavirus, though its games will be played without fans in the seats due to health concerns. It's similar to concessions made by other sports making a comeback during a global health crisis, though not quite as adorable as Korean baseball organiziations filling seats with stuffed animals.
EA actually hosted virtual soccer events as athletes were forced to stay indoors due to COVID-19 concerns. While the virtual-sports-with-real-athletes trend may be petering out as leagues prepare to re-open, it was fun while it lasted. Meanwhile, Electronic Arts is gearing up for its EA Play conference taking place this month, where its supposedly set to debut a mystery sports game to join its FIFA, NHL, and Madden offerings.