VoiceBox, Part of Wolfestone Group

Crystal Palace FC find themselves in the midst of an ‘F-bomb’ gaffe that’s grabbing the attention of the world’s football fans across social media.

Who, what, where, when?

Football’s an emotive sport that can often bring out some colourful language from players and supporters alike but, in this instance, Palace’s four letter faux pas wasn’t the product of a player outburst or even their always entertaining/controversial manager, Alan Pardew. In this case, the expletive was a product of automated closed captions on the club’s YouTube page.

Caption catastrophe

Shared by the club with their thousands of YouTube subscribers, the caption catastrophe occurs on the 10 second mark of an otherwise innocuous interview with Palace Academy midfielder, Michael Phillips.

Phillips is deemed by YouTube’s auto caption facility to say “f*cked up the bench”. However, upon closer inspection, it’s clear that the youngster is speaking of being “dropped to the bench”.

Automated subtitles: an own goal for Premier League clubs

Discovered by VoiceBox’s Social Media Executive, Sian O’Roche, the F-bomb farce is one a multitude of errors that Premier League clubs are running into with auto-captions.

Speaking of the discovery, Sian said: “We’re working with Premier League clubs and The FA to boost their video engagement with fans, so I regularly review clubs current video marketing. And, although I’ve seen some funny closed caption errors in the past, this one is the biggest own goal to date!”

Acknowledging the limitations of their auto captions, YouTube’s product manager Matthew Glotzbach said: “Although I think having auto caption is better than nothing I fully admit and I fully recognise that it is by no means good enough yet.”

The time is right for Super Subs

Although it’s easy to see the funny side of Crystal Palace’s YouTube mishap, the incident does underline a growing ignorance by Premier League clubs to meet the needs of their hard of hearing fans. With over 5% of the world’s population identifying themselves as deaf or hard of hearing, and the average Premier League club publishing over an hour’s worth of original video content each week, clubs are currently alienating millions of fans who are unable to access the video’s audio.

Professional subtitles not only allow clubs to make their video content accessible to their deaf fans but also increase social media engagement by as much as 20 percent. What’s more, multilingual subtitles, targeted at the Premier League’s growing Chinese market are another means on capitalising on the lucrative commercial opportunities.

Crystal Palace’s automated oversight comes just weeks after Manchester United alienated over 32 million of their supporters in their unveiling of new signing, Paul Pogba.