Angry German television chiefs have complained to Uefa after it was discovered that coverage of the European Championship semi-final between Germany and Italy was manipulated to show a German woman in tears when her team was two goals down when in fact she had been moved by the national anthem.
When the fan alerted the German press to the faked footage, after she received texts and facebook messages from bemused friends, it was discovered that Uefa, European football's governing body which controlled the broadcast, had strategically inserted the images following a goal when they had actually been filmed much earlier.
The footage aired just after Italy had scored their second goal showed slow-motion images of a woman, identified as Andrea from Düsseldorf, wiping copious tears from her cheek. But the scene had been filmed 40 minutes earlier during the singing of the national anthem, which the woman said had moved her to tears.
Bosses at ARD and ZDF, Germany's state channels which broadcast the match, have called on Uefa to explain the doctored footage, saying that it risked damaging their reputation with German viewers.
"This incident is in no way acceptable," said Dieter Gruschwitz, the ZDF head of sport, in a letter to Uefa. "Because here it was suggested to the viewer that a scene – the woman with tears – was a direct result of the situation that had just happened, namely the Italians' goal." He added: "This is without a doubt a manipulation".
The TV networks had lodged a complaint with Uefa via their joint sporting rights agency, SportA, he said, calling on the governing body to resist similar "interventions" in future.
Uefa has admitted playing with the footage but said it had done so only in an attempt to transmit the full emotional impact of the game on fans, to show "the human story of the game" and "to translate the emotion and tension of German fans".
In a previous incident Germany's manager, Joachim Löw, was shown teasing a ballboy during the first half of his team's match against Holland, which struck German fans as bizarre, particularly during a tense encounter. In fact the incident had happened before kick-off.
Uefa said it had not intended to mislead the audience and had deliberately used replay wipes before and after the clip, which clearly showed the event was not live.
Some German commentators said it was ironic that the scene of the crying woman had been taken out of context so that it was no longer clear she had been crying out of a sense of national pride. The football pitch is one of the few places it is considered acceptable by many Germans to express patriotism and if only for that reason the image, had it been used live, would have been both moving and fitting.
"We are incredulous and annoyed," said Jörg Schönenborn of ARD. "This discussion is not yet over."
Following the revelations, footage of the European championships was being raked over by fans and television researchers in search of any other contrivances.