The Sports Bay


The Real Reason Footballers Cover Their Mouths On The Field

It is a common sight to see footballers these days covering their mouths while talking to teammates, managers, opposition players and even the referees.

The general belief is that the players cover their mouths to minimize the risk of being caught revealing vital information or tactics to the opposing team or worse still, using vulgar, uncouth statements on the field of play.

But in truth, the real reason they speak to each other that was has nothing to do with secrecy – it is all down to making sure they are being heard.

According to a renowned PR consultant Phil Hall, who has worked with some of the biggest clubs and names in the Premier League, says no-one is being advised to cover up to protect vital team plans.

Hall said: “A player once told me one of the main reasons they do it is, sometimes you are doing it when you are close to somebody, it amplifies your voice so they can hear you.

“There is a lot of noise around them in a stadium and on the pitch, they need to amplify the voice.

“In a loud ground, when you speak normally the sound is being spread out.

“It’s like a foghorn, if you put your hand over your mouth and point it to the person you are talking to it is much clearer.”

Hall has worked closely with Manchester City, West Ham and Crystal Palace in recent years, as well as advising other high profile managers and players.

And though TV stations have looked into lip reading managers and players in other countries, he says it is not common in the UK.

He added: “It started in South America where a couple of TV stations hired guests to start reading what was being said on the benches and what was being said by the players.

“They employed lip readers and various methods to find out what was being said tactically by the bench to the players.

“But the players themselves over here, I think are just aping what they see on the continent. I don’t think over here they are being actively advised to cover up.

“I have certainly not seen any evidence of lip reading over here, at any of the clubs I have done work with.

“When Roy Hodgson went to the World Cup, a lip reader announced she was going to interpret everything he was saying on the bench and publish it on a blog – so you can see why they are getting more and more cautious.

“But I don’t think they have been briefed.

“I have not heard anybody saying anything about anybody being lip-read. I’ve never been asked to advise on anything like that.

“In NFL there is a whole pattern of tactics and play calls that can be read by a lip reader, but in football the game is just not that structured where it could potentially make a difference.”

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