Neil Best, who writes about the sports media for Newsday, published a story on Tuesday that focused on how Fox’s plans to cover the World Cup in Russia changed once the US Men’s National Team was eliminated int he qualifying rounds. Plenty of Fox personalities are interviewed in the piece and all of them admit that they would rather have the USA in the event, but former ESPN soccer analyst Alexi Lalas, who is now with Fox said that the diversity of the United States’ population means that there is still passion for the event in this country.
“We’ll talk about it and it will inform some of the discussions that we have,” Lalas said, “but we’re not going to bang people over the head with it. We don’t have to rehash everything. The World Cup is a big party. Just because the U.S. team is not there doesn’t mean we’re not invited.”
Lalas also said that he views a World Cup without the US as a real measure of where the country is in its soccer fandom. NBC estimates that nearly 10 million fans watch their coverage of the English Premier League every season. Will that audience also watch an event that their own country wasn’t good enough to be a part of this year? Rob Stone, who will anchor Fox’s studio coverage, has no doubt the eyeballs will be there.
“If this happened in 1990, the U.S. not qualifying for the World Cup, nobody would care. Nobody would know, nobody would notice. Life would go on. That’s not the case this year. We’re just getting over our hangover. Our hearts were broken — for the players, for the team, for the federation, selfishly for us as well.
“But guess what? Our country is now a place where we can handle the United States not being in the World Cup. This country is going to embrace this World Cup more than anybody figures they will.”
Among the challenges Best highlights in his piece are the absence of on the ground play-by-play teams for Fox. Many of the matches will be called for US audiences by play-by-play teams watching in a studio in LA. Best also noted that the time difference between the US and Russia means no games in primetime. Most audiences will have to watch matches in the morning and early afternoon.
The full story is very interesting and very much worth your time. You can read it by clicking here.