Euro 2024: Gareth Southgate social media video 'deepfake' infuriates FA

AI Video & Visuals

Image source, Getty Images

Image caption, The video was made to look like a Gareth Southgate press conference.

  • author, Laura Scott
  • role, Sports News Correspondent

Every word from England manager Gareth Southgate at a major tournament is being dissected, deconstructed and debated.

But Euro 2024 has brought a new dimension: a fake AI-generated interview with the England manager is being watched by millions on social media.

The fake videos, which allegedly show Southgate making vulgar comments to players, have been condemned as “offensive” by the Football Association.

The video has gone viral on TikTok and Instagram.

This includes derogatory comments about England's Euro 2024 players and those who were not selected.

Comments on social media suggest some viewers believed the claims made about players such as Phil Foden, Jordan Henderson, Jack Grealish and Marcus Rashford.

All the videos are made to look like Southgate giving a press conference, but an AI voice generator is used to overlay fake words and artificial mouth movements.

In one, an artificial voice apologises “to the nation” for the manager's performance and criticises the players.

In another comment, the fake Southgate said: “I think Jordan Henderson's presence was really missed tonight.”

BBC Sport spoke to several England fans in Germany who saw the footage on social media.

The majority said they found the content interesting.

“It's quintessential British humour and I think it's harmless fun as it helps to lift people's morale and keep them motivated and happy,” one supporter told BBC Sport.

“Apparently Gareth doesn't read anything or look at social media.”

Another commenter described some of the videos as “quite funny”, but pointed out that the England manager was not the only one to be targeted.

“I've seen a lot of players throughout the season. [Jurgen] Klopp, Pep [Guardiola] and [Mikel] Arteta has got it too.”

But in a statement the FA said it would “take action to remove these disturbing videos, as we do with any harmful content.”

“Gareth and everyone in the camp are focused on Sunday's match.”

England won Group C at Euro 2024 and will face Slovakia in the last 16, but there has been criticism of their playing style and manager Southgate personally.

AI videos are a “clear and imminent danger”

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said earlier this year that a deepfake audio of purportedly inflammatory comments had threatened to cause “serious unrest” ahead of Armistice Day.

And former justice secretary Sir Robert Buckland said AI video in politics was a “clear and imminent danger” to British democracy.

TikTok and Instagram allow AI-generated content, but have rules about what content they consider harmful.

The BBC contacted TikTok about a number of videos on one account, which were quickly removed.

The post was removed apparently due to repeated violations of the platform's AIGC policies.

Meta, which owns Instagram, was also reviewing the materials.

Experts warned that it's not just those in positions of power who fall victim to this kind of manipulation.

“It's not just people who leave a large digital footprint whose identity can be stolen,” said Hany Farid, a professor and digital forensic expert at the University of California, San Francisco.

“You can take 30 seconds of someone's voice and one short image of someone and create a deepfake.”

He added that there is a delicate balance to be struck with regulations when it comes to satire.

“It's one thing to write a satirical piece making fun of a politician or an athlete,” he said.

“It's quite different to having a video of that person's voice or appearance that would be quite disturbing. I think the courts and we as a society have to consider where we draw the line.”

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