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Caught offside: Madrid newspaper blames technology for fake picture

AS deny that they deliberately manipulated the photograph to make a Barcelona goal appear offside.

Image: Matthew Ashton/EMPICS Sport

MADRID-BASED SPORTS daily AS has been forced to print an apology after it emerged that they had published a photograph which appeared to have been deliberately doctored.

However, the newspaper’s management have denied that there was any malicious intent behind the mistake, blaming it instead on a “computer graphics error”.

The photograph in question appeared in the print edition on Monday morning, accompanying a report of Barcelona’s 2-1 victory over Athletic Bilbao on Sunday evening. Barcelona took a 1-0 lead early on in the match after Brazilian wing-back Dani Alves set up David Villa for the game’s opening goal.

There had been some suggestion, however, that Alves had been offside when initially set free by Xavi. The picture which appeared in AS on Monday appeared to confirm this, showing Alves to be well beyond the final defender at the time the ball was played.

However, further examination showed that the deepest-lying Bilbao defender, Koikili, had been omitted from the photo to remove any doubt that Alves had been in an offside position. If the Brazilian was offside, it was by inches at most.

The Madrid-based paper’s “error” takes on additional significance in light of the fact that most of its coverage focuses on Real Madrid, Barcelona’s fiercest rivals in La Liga.

Apology

Forced into an embarrassing climbdown yesterday, the newspaper’s management explained the process through which the image was created.

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Using a piece of automated software called Videoma, a series of screengrabs are captured at 0.15 second intervals. When assembled together, these screengrabs “create a unique sequence that allows the reader to see a complete picture of the goal from the beginning of the play to its completion.”

As a result, the paper explained, every player involved in the action appears on multiple occasions in the final image. In order to draw the reader’s attention to the movement of specific players – in this case Alves and Villa – some of these extraneous appearances are removed from the image.

As images of Koikili and Villa overlapped at one point later on in the action, the software chose to hide all images of the Bilbao defender, not realising that his earlier position earlier was in fact vitally important. At least, that’s what they have claimed.

AS were reluctant to be completely discredited however, closing their statement by noting that “even in the corrected picture, you can see that Alves is offside.”

Some climbdown, eh?

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Niall Kelly

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