Could Martin Tyler Be Joining the ESPN 2010 World Cup Team?

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It’s just a rumour right now, but it’s one which will have most football fans salivating. Is Martin Tyler in talks with ESPN to become one of the network’s commentators for its coverage of the 2010 World Cup?

In an interview with Sports Illustrated published today, ESPN’s executive vice president for content John Skipper said that “we will have international talent. Everybody on our air will be a longtime soccer announcer.”

Skipper didn’t mention Martin Tyler by name, but another Sport Illustrated writer did a few days ago. Grant Wahl, author of the soon-to-be-released book The Beckham Experiment, published a tweet (pictured above) with the rumor that ESPN has been talking to Tyler, as well as Jose Mourinho and Jurgen Klinsmann.

In addition to the speculation about Tyler, there’s plenty of other nuggets mentioned by Skipper in the Sports Illustrated interview including the following quotes:

  • John Battsek and Michael Davies, two of the producers behind Once In A Lifetime, the 2006 documentary about the rise and fall of Pelé and the New York Cosmos, have been dispatched to interview every living player who has scored a goal in a World Cup final. (ESPN also plans to also air a documentary off the interviews.) Skipper said that he expects any holdouts from the 50 or so subjects to ultimately fall into place (Some subjects asked for money, though Skipper would not name them.) Skipper also said the network plans to “take a page out of the ABC Sports Olympic playbook and do “Up Close and Personals” on players from around the world. ESPN will do a long-form feature on at least one player from all 32 World Cup teams.
  • The game coverage will include four reporters, including one reporter embedded with the U.S. team. Another reporter will focus on the South American teams, and two additional reporters will rotate around the tournament. ESPN will have two on-site sets, including SportsCenter, and three host anchors offering live and tape-delayed coverage.
  • In terms of scale and magnitude, the World Cup appears to be a dress rehearsal for what could be a future Olympics on ESPN. Said Skipper: “I’ll answer that slightly by indirection: Our goal is to an Olympics-level broadcast. We view this as the first fully ESPN World Cup. We are taking SportsCenter there for the whole time and we are doing a studio show. We will treat this for what it is: One of the two great quadrennial sporting events in the world. So, by implication, we will treat this as the Olympics.”
  • The U.S EPL rights are held by Fox Soccer Channel and are expected to come up for renewal in the next couple of months. Skipper said his network is interested and does not have to have exclusivity. As first reported by Sports Business Daily, the EPL is making a three-year package available, from the 2010-11 season through the 2012-13 season. “We are very interested and we have relayed our interest to Mr. [Premier League chief executive Richard] Scudamore,” Skipper said. “We are interested in all kinds of soccer.”

Watch out world, here comes ESPN.

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