A feel-good campaign allowing fans to have cardboard cutouts of themselves at Australian rugby league games has been hijacked by pranksters, with a notorious serial killer among those making an appearance — while one TV show edited an image of Adolf Hitler into the crowd.
The NRL launched “Fan In The Stand” to coincide with the sport’s return at the weekend after its season was put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Supporters are barred from stadiums under strict health protocols, but can pay A$22 (US$15) to have their photograph printed on a life-size cutout and placed in the stands of their team’s home venue.
While most played by the rules, TV viewers spotted some anomalies as cameras panned over the fake fans, including a dog and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s top aide Dominic Cummings.
Cummings sparked a political scandal when newspapers discovered that he left London and took a cross-country trip during the UK’s strict COVID-19 lockdown.
However, it was a cutout of serial killer Harold Shipman, known as “Dr Death,” at Sunday’s clash between the Penrith Panthers and Newcastle Knights that caused concerns. Shipman was an English doctor who in 2000 was found guilty of murdering 15 patients, although he is believed to have killed more than 200.
“We are reviewing the vetting process for ‘Fan In The Stand.’ The weekend was a trial run and trials are designed to iron out issues,” the NRL said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Fox Sports apologized after one of its shows photoshopped an image of Adolf Hitler onto one of the cutouts.
“The segment on my Fox League show on Sunday in which we showed an image of Hitler in crowd cutouts was in poor taste and completely inappropriate,” said the show’s host Matty Johns, a former Australia international.
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