Is this the future of broadcasting? England’s World Cup qualifier live online against Ukraine on Saturday (on 10th October 2009) won’t be subtitled or audio described.

Image of Ukraine V England game. Copyright belongs to Kentaro

A historic moment in broadcasting for football fans everywhere – yet again Deaf and Disabled fans will miss out.

If they are watching it – it will be without sound. Maybe they’ll club together to pay the extra £50+ an hour needed for two British Sign Language Interpreters (SLI’s) to sign it by the side of the tiny screen on their laptop!

SLI’s need a break every 20 minutes hence the need for two.

Should they send the invoice to FIFA under the Disability Discrimination Act?

Deaf and Disabled Fans will miss out as a result. Did you know for example that there are 25 Deaf football teams in the UK – or that the Deaflympics took place last month?

I wrote to TaylorHerring PR to ask if it was going to be subtitled or audio described as there was no mention of either on the Terms and Conditions page.

TaylorHerring PR represent Kentaro the international football agency who sold the broadcasting rights and digital sports specialist Platform who are streaming the game.

James Herring, Managing Partner responded to me today saying:

Dear Alison,

I’m afraid this won’t be possible this weekend, they don’t have

the capability.

Subtitles can in theory be downloaded, but due to the nature of

this first live, exclusive broadcast on the internet and the very short

timescale that the project has been delivered in we are not able to

offer this service.

I have raise this issue with the production team and it is certainly

something they plan to be able to do in future.


James Herring

Hearing fans can watch it online via signing up to or through the websites of the Sun, the Times, News of the World, The Daily Mail, the Daily Telegraph, the Daily Express, the Daily Star, the Independent, Virgin Media, Orange, The Metro, Odeon Cinemas and Beta365.

On TaylorHerringPR’s website it states that the partners involved:

“a cumulative combined monthly user base online of over 20 million in the UK. When combined with Perform’s own online sports network of over 23 million monthly users, the promotion of the match will be the largest online campaign in UK history;”

So even if you hate the idea of forking out £9.99 to watch the game online and have – spare a thought for the 70,000+ Deaf people in the UK alone never mind Deaf football fans world wide who won’t be able to follow the game.

The game’s being presented by James Richardson alongside ex-England Manager Sven Goran Eriksson with commentary by David Pleat and Tony Jones.

FIFA and UEFA should be pulled up – not only agreeing for this exclusive arrangement to stream the game on web only but also for not even considering the issue of accessibility, the need for internet access or affordability for fans.

So what do you think? Vote now (results will be passed on to FIFA, UEFA and Kentaro):

[polldaddy poll=2093392]

So I leave you ponder another reality for Digital Britain and what inclusion actually means the last word goes to Kentaro Chief Executive Phillip Grothe who was quoted in the Guardian as saying:

“In six months’ or a year’s time this will be ordinary business, … I have received a lot of calls from people around the globe who are looking into this. It’s not a one-off trial here.”

Are you worried about how you will be excluded in digital broadcasting online? I am.