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How UEFA make Europa League games happen: broadcasting

"Everyone expects a lot from the Europa League now," says UEFA match operations team leader Ken Nikravesh as he explains how he works to ensure consistently superb broadcasts in the competition.

See the work that goes on to ensure consistently superb broadcasts in the UEFA Europa League.
Behind the scenes: TV production

To ensure that there is no distraction from the action during UEFA club competition games, a huge amount of work goes on off camera to ensure that every team, every match, every club and every broadcaster receives the same high standard of service.

In this piece presented by Engelbert Strauss, we discover how UEFA ensures that the standard of TV coverage remains consistent from venue to venue for every UEFA Europa League or UEFA Europa Conference League game.

Every match is different, but a key mission of UEFA's venue teams is to ensure that they have a consistent look and feel, to television viewers as well as fans in the stadium. "TV colleagues are here to make sure that ultimately the production of a match from a TV point of view," UEFA match operations team leader Ken Nikravesh explains. "So a consistent product is being offered over every match."

"When someone turns on a Europa League match on TV, we want them to know instantaneously that's Europa League: that's a Europa League or Conference League match," confirms UEFA venue operations and broadcast manager (VOBM) Thomas Attal.

A cameraman in Seville earlier this season
A cameraman in Seville earlier this seasonUEFA via Getty Images

While UEFA works with a range of host broadcasters, elements like graphics, replay wipes and the match running order remain consistent from game to game, while the arrival of the video assistant referee (VAR) system in the UEFA Europa League has raised the pressure on the venue crews. "Everyone expects a lot from the Europa League now and VAR is part of the competition, so it's growing with each year," Nikravesh says.

The venue director (VD), the venue operations and broadcast manager (VOBM) and representatives of the host broadcaster meet ahead of the game to ensure that all the broadcast protocols are understood and observed, and that the cameras are pointing in the right directions at the right times.

"The venue director would cover the countdown to kick off: the key timings, the warm-up timings, any planned fan activities – so the host broadcaster can make sure they are covering those shots," says Nikravesh. "If there's grass-cutting, if there's pitch-watering at certain times, the host broadcaster needs to know in case they have to cover up cameras that are pitchside."

The countdown to kick-off is fairly consistent from match to match; broadcasters film the team arrivals, then team sheets are submitted 75 minutes before kick-off. Officials behind the scenes then check the match equipment before the players come out for their warm-up, return to the dressing rooms and finally come out for the match proper.

Rangers skipper James Tavernier in the flash after the semi-finals
Rangers skipper James Tavernier in the flash after the semi-finalsUEFA via Getty Images

Post-match, there is also an established rhythm. While some players are earmarked for 'flash' interviews at pitchside, others are taken for post-match doping tests. Elsewhere the referee validates the key match events, which are then approved by the match delegate, who is the most senior official at every game.

There is a lot to keep track of, and Attal says it demands plenty of organisation from staff on site. "Teamwork is absolutely essential for this," he says. "I would say the biggest challenge is ensuring that you have set your priorities in a way that you have time to complete all the things that you have to do because your day will run away from you very quickly if you don't."