More than a game

Newcastle ‘unsilence the crowd’ by helping deaf fans feel the noise

16 Apr 2024

Find out the real meaning of Dan Burn's celebration during Newcastle's 4-0 win over Spurs

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During Newcastle United’s emphatic win over Tottenham Hotspur at St James’ Park on Saturday, fans may have noticed the Magpies wearing shirts that sported RNID across the front of Newcastle’s iconic black and white stripes.

The fixture marked the launch of Newcastle’s "Unsilence The Crowd" campaign, an initiative aiming to provide an inclusive football experience for deaf fans.

As part of the campaign, the club and front-of-shirt sponsor SELA proudly supports the Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID), and they launched a special haptic shirt to make their fixture against Spurs even more accessible for deaf fans at St James’ Park.

The national hearing loss charity was founded in 1911 and currently supports 12million people in the UK who are deaf, have hearing loss or tinnitus.

In a world-first initiative, the haptic shirts, which use sensors, vibrated during the action and transformed the noise of St James’ Park into real-time touch sensation - immersing deaf fans within the matchday experience.

Unforgettable moments

By working closely with SELA, Newcastle used innovation to provide those wearing the shirts with unforgettable moments.

Talking about the technology, Newcastle United explained: “The shirts work by using conductive textiles and haptic modules that are integrated into the fabric.

"Broadcast microphones capture the sound around the pitch, which is then converted from analogue to digital format using specialised software. This software then transforms the crowd noise into touch data which is then wirelessly transmitted to the shirt via an antenna in real time.”

The club has committed to providing this technology at all future home fixtures and hopes to inspire other clubs across the Premier League, Europe and beyond to increase their efforts in providing deaf fans with unforgettable experiences.

Newcastle’s win over Spurs turned out the be the perfect game in which to launch the haptic shirts as Eddie Howe’s side managed to score four times past Guglielmo Vicario in the Spurs net.

After Alexander Isak slotted home the third goal and his second of the match, defender Dan Burn joined his team-mates in the celebrations. After peeling himself away from the rapture, Burn poignantly yet proudly used British Sign Language (BSL) to send a message to the deaf fans in St James’ Park and to those watching live on TNT Sports.

Facing toward a television camera, Burn motioned in BSL, "Love the fans", keeping his promise he made to deaf fans in the weeks leading up to kick-off.

Burn’s significant celebration comes on the back of him and right-back Kieran Trippier meeting a group of deaf fans who taught both players some BSL actions during a special event at Newcastle United Foundation’s NUCASTLE facility.

Speaking to TNT Sports, Burn said: “I didn’t realise the numbers of the deaf community, so for them to be able to experience what I’ve been able to experience as a kid, I’ve seen the technology in my shirt where they could really feel it when the crowd were cheering. I think that’s very special.”

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