Fox announced yesterday their intent to morph hoops screamer extraordinaire Gus Johnson into a top flight soccer commentator in time for the network’s coverage of the 2018 World Cup. After working a handful of MLS matches on radio, Johnson’s upcoming trial by fire includes EPL and Champions League commentary for Fox, assignments EPL Talk’s Gaffer calls, “a smack in the face to the die-hard soccer fans who have subscribed and supported the network for years.”
I understand FOX’s vision to add an American voice behind the mic, but FOX Soccer loses instant credibility by putting someone in there who knows very little about the game. He has the voice. He has the energy. But he doesn’t know the history or the intricacies of the game. This will come over time, but he should use training wheels on broadcasts of Europa League games or SPL games before being thrown in the deep end for such high profile matches featuring Real Madrid, Manchester United, Arsenal and the FA Cup Final.
Who is FOX pandering to? The advertisers?? If it’s the TV viewer, instead, you would think they would pick the best person to do the commentating — i.e. a Martin Tyler, Alan Parry, Jon Champion or whoever the person would be doing the commentary for the world feed. These are men who have spent decades, not weeks, commentating on the game and researching and interviewing the footballers. Maybe by FIFA World Cup 2018 (or the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup), Johnson will be much better behind the mic to provide a commentary that would rival some of the up-and-coming commentators. But I find it unconscionable that FOX Sports and FOX Soccer have decided that they’re going to give a basketball announcer his experience in such high profile matches as the Premier League and Champions League this season. Thank heavens that FOX Soccer doesn’t have the rights to the Premier League after May, 2013.