ESPN Announces Commentator Assignments for 2010 World Cup Coverage

FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour launches in Cape Town, South Africa

ESPN has revealed the commentator assignments for its coverage of the 2010 World Cup.

The big one, the match that everyone is talking about featuring England against the United States of America, will include Martin Tyler as the lead commentator and John Harkes as the co-commentator (June 12, 2:30pm ET, ABC).

In the match that kicks off the tournament between South Africa and Mexico, the commentating team will be Martin Tyler and Efan Ekoku.

Here is the complete schedule of commentator assignments for the first 10 days of the tournament:

Friday, June 11:

  • South Africa v Mexico, 9:30am ET, ESPN/ Martin Tyler and Efan Ekoku
  • Uruguay v France, 2pm ET, ESPN/ Ian Darke and Ally McCoist

Saturday, June 12:

  • Korea Republic v Greece, 7am ET, ESPN/ Derek Rae and Robbie Mustoe
  • Argentina v Nigeria, 9:30am ET, ESPN/ Adrian Healey and Efan Ekoku
  • England v USA, 2pm ET, ABC: Martin Tyler and John Harkes

Sunday, June 13:

  • Algeria v Slovenia, 7am ET, ESPN/ Adrian Healey and John Harkes
  • Serbia v Ghana, 9:30am ET, ESPN/ Ian Darke and Efan Ekoku
  • Germany v Australia, 2pm ET, ABC: Martin Tyler and Ally McCoist

Monday, June 14:

  • Holland v Denmark, 7am ET, ESPN/ Adrian Healey and John Harkes
  • Japan v Cameroon, 9:30am ET, ESPN/ Derek Rae and Robbie Mustoe
  • Italy v Paraguay, 2pm ET, ESPN/ Ian Darke and Efan Ekoku

Tuesday, June 15:

  • New Zealand v Slovakia, 7am ET, ESPN/ Adrian Healey and John Harkes
  • Ivory Coast v Portugal, 9:30am ET, ESPN/ Ian Darke and Efan Ekoku
  • Brazil v Korea DPR, 2pm ET, ESPN/ Martin Tyler and Ally McCoist

Wednesday, June 16:

  • Honduras v Chile, 7am ET, ESPN/ Adrian Healey and John Harkes
  • Spain v Switzerland, 9:30am ET, ESPN/ Derek Rae and Robbie Mustoe
  • South Africa v Uruguay, 2pm ET, ESPN/ Martin Tyler and Ally McCoist

Thursday, June 17:

  • Argentina v Korea Rep., 7am ET, ESPN/ Ian Darke and John Harkes
  • Greece v Nigeria, 9:30am ET, ESPN/ Derek Rae and Robbie Mustoe
  • France v Mexico, 2pm, ESPN2/ Adrian Healey and Efan Ekoku

Friday, June 18:

  • Germany v Serbia, 7am ET, ESPN/ Derek Rae and Robbie Mustoe
  • Slovenia v USA, 9:30am ET, ESPN/ Ian Darke and John Harkes
  • England v Algeria, 2pm ET, ESPN2/ Martin Tyler and Ally McCoist

Saturday, June 19:

  • Holland v Japan, 7am ET, ESPN/ Derek Rae and Robbie Mustoe
  • Ghana v Australia, 9:30am ET, ESPN/ Adrian Healey and John Harkes
  • Cameroon v Denmark, 2pm ET, ABC: Ian Darke and Efan Ekoku

Sunday, June 20:

  • Slovakia v Paraguay, 7am ET, ESPN/ Adrian Healey and John Harkes
  • Italy v New Zealand, 9:30am ET, ESPN/ Ian Darke and Ally McCoist
  • Brazil v Ivory Coast, 2pm ET, ESPN/ Martin Tyler and Efan Ekoku

Monday, June 21:

  • Portugal v Korea DPR, 7am ET, ESPN/ Adrian Healey and John Harkes
  • Chile v Switzerland, 9:30am ET, ESPN/ Derek Rae and Robbie Mustoe
  • Spain v Honduras, 2pm ET, ESPN/,  Martin Tyler and Ally McCoist

The commentators for June 23 through July 11 will be announced at a later date.

Some observations about the choice of commentators for each game:

  • John Harkes will serve as co-commentator on all U.S. team matches, which is good news for those of you (myself included) who feel it absolutely necessary to include an American voice in ESPN’s TV commentary,
  • On ESPN Radio, the lead broadcast team of JP Dellacamera and Tommy Smyth will call the South Africa versus Mexico opener, as well as all U.S. team matches including the England match on June 12,
  • ESPN’s radio commentator team also includes Glenn Davis, Kyle Martino, Ross Dyer and Shep Messing,
  • Most of us already knew that most of the ESPN TV commentators were going to have British accents, but after reviewing the above schedule, you get a good glimpse of how few American accents you’ll hear commentating games on TV during the first 10 days of the tournament.

67 thoughts on “ESPN Announces Commentator Assignments for 2010 World Cup Coverage”

  1. The fewer the better. It’s a simple reality that American soccer commentators in general like the sound of their voice (JP) – and feel like they need to talk about their kid’s recent U-10 game with a shoddy referee. England’s had the game much longer than we have, and they’ve learned how it’s done. It’s like asking if you’d like a Brit to come comment for our NFL games – no thanks…

    1. Well said, Phenoum. American commentators will spend the entire first half trying to explain what a yellow card means or what an offside call is. I feel sorry for Martin Tyler, who will probably not get a single word in 90 minutes sitting next to someone like John Harkes.

      1. >>I feel sorry for Martin Tyler, who will probably not get a single word in 90 minutes sitting next to someone like John Harkes.

        Maybe Martin Tyler could get a mute button for John Harkes! I hope JH doesn’t feel he has to talk ALL the time….

    2. >>The fewer the better. It’s a simple reality that American soccer commentators in general like the sound of their voice (JP) – and feel like they need to talk about their kid’s recent U-10 game with a shoddy referee.

      Well Said. Although I have to say Martin Tyler could have sounded a little more excited during the first game!

    1. Jean-Christian, yes. They’ll probably be announced the second week of the World Cup. As soon as we find out the details, we’ll post it on EPL Talk and/or World Cup Buzz.

      The Gaffer

  2. I like it; I like it a lot. We will have announcers who know the game, won’t be comparing the Brazil-Argentina rivalry to the Yankees-Red Sox, and won’t be delving into a sappy story about a player’s poor childhood to appeal to the casual fan.
    Enough is enough w/ compromises. With Dave O’Brien (nothing personal against him; he may be a nice guy), ESPN hit rock bottom 4 yrs. ago, and I am glad that they have learned their lesson.
    I also agree that a US commentator/analyst is a must for all the US games. I like Robbie Mustoe, Adrian Healey, Derek Rae, and even Efan is really good. And, of course, Martin Tyler. Is it June 11th yet???

  3. I don’t understand why you feel its vital for Americans to hear American commentators. If Americans fall in love with the game, it will be because of what happens on the pitch, not how its described in the booth.

    1. John, tell that to the thousands of soccer fans who were driven away from the 2006 World Cup coverage by Dave O’Brien and Marcelo Balboa and ended up watching the games in a language they didn’t understand on Univision.

      Yes, the game does the talking for most viewers. But the commentators make a big difference in bridging the gap between what a person sees and what they hear and understand (thanks to the commentators).

      I don’t feel it’s necessary for all of ESPN’s TV lead commentators to have American voices. All I was asking for was just one.

      The Gaffer

      1. Martin Tyler, Rae, Champion and Darke are by far the best in commentating the beautiful game. American fans will enjoy the game much better with Tyler, Rae and Darke. I wish there weren’t any American commentators. All they do is talk talk talk. I love baseball and there is an art to calling a game. John Miller anyone? A lot of non action in baseball is filled with talking. It works in baseball and football. But NOT in soccer. I was screaming at the TV in 2006 for them to shut up!
        Americans should enjoy commentating done right, even though the commentators aren’t American. If I were living in England, would i want English comentators calling a baseball game over John Miller? Or NFL’s Madden/Summerall or Enberg.

      2. >>John, tell that to the thousands of soccer fans who were driven away from the 2006 World Cup coverage by Dave O’Brien and Marcelo Balboa and ended up watching the games in a language they didn’t understand on Univision.

        I agree with this 100%. The 2006 coverage was messed up for so many by the dreadful play by play guys who had to talk and talk and talk and….

      1. Yeah they have something similar to that on sky with those two, I can’t stand Richard Keys, keep him over there will you?
        Very surprised they did not team Tyler and Gray up, those 2 just go well together.

    1. Thanks for the link. I didn’t know Ian Darke by name but I definitely recognise that voice.

      I am a big fan of all three of the PBP guys. The presentation of this WC is going to be phenomenal.

  4. Will the ESPM Radio onlin stream be streaming the games so we can listen at work? I live in Detroit and do not have an ESPN affiliate station.

      1. You may be able to just stream the game online from somewhere, and listen (or watch, not sure how strict the office is or what you’re going for.) For example, is streaming everything, I believe, and so is the BBC, although I have no idea what restrictions are placed on being able to view those.

  5. I am a big fan of Ian Darke as wel. I enjoy his enthusiasm even during the most dire of EPL games. I was also amused in 1994 when he would seem flummoxed on ESPN broadcasts at having to read out promos for other upcoming events on ESPN like baseball or rodeo. I’m willing to bet this time around ESPN however will only be promoting other upcoming WC games during the telecasts.

  6. If people find it necessary to have American commentators, maybe John Harkes should be paired up with Eric Wynalda in the booth. That would get interesting.

    All jokes aside, I really don’t find it necessary to have an American commentator in the booth. I’m glad Tyler will be there for at least one U.S. match. That would have been nice if he was paired up with Andy Gray.

    1. Never understood the appeal of Andy Gray.
      He drools over the so-called “top 4” in the EPL (I know we’re talking WC here, but he shows obvious favo(u)ritism in his commentaries).
      He’s incoherent (how could US fans understand him when us ex-pats can’t?)
      .. and he’s Scottish (besides Fergie, what do Scots know about football?)

      1. just thought you should maybe take a look through some british football history and look at some of these managers ALL scottish who probably knew a bit more than you about football.(also check the final standings for epl 2010-three scottish managers in top ten and only two englishmen,how long is it since a team managed by an englishman won the epl?) (by the way ,it was 91-92 howard wilkinson-tells me that its the foreigners in england who make the epl look good-including us scots.

        kenny dalglish(from glasgow SCOTLAND)
        bill shankly (from ayr in SCOTLAND)
        alex fergusson(glasgow inSCOTLAND)
        sir matt busby(bellshill in SCOTLAND)
        jock stein(lanarkshire in SCOTLAND)
        george graham(coatbridge in SCOTLAND)

  7. I somewhat agree. I think that it would help if there was at least one American announcer. But I don’t really think the choice of announcers is really going to have much of an affect on the popularity of the World Cup.

  8. Gaffer, question:

    Are these commentators exclusive to ESPN US? Can’t imagine Darke and Tyler not calling games for the English crowd in England.

    1. Darke and Tyler are both employed by Sky Sports.

      BBC and ITV are splitting the rights to the WC as always.

  9. The US fans have no idea how spoiled they are with all these great announcers calling every game and the endless hours of coverage on ESPN USA. People complaining are just being too picky. I heard they will also have matches in 3D?

  10. I think Harkes will be out of his element with a seasoned broadcaster like Tyler… this is a very odd pairing.. i hope he keeps his comments to a minimum.. he has a tendency to keep blabbing over the main pxp man.. i would have hoped for Alley with Tyler.. but oh well.. the “american” voice is there.

    Darke is a surprisingly fantastic pickup.. a different style than Tyler, but no less impressive.. Efan is great…the rest of the teams are fine. I actually think JP is great when paired up correctly.. shame he is on the radio.

    I like FSC post game show personalities… except one… how the hell does Christopher Sullivan fit in with Keys,Barton,Gray…. why Fox.. why…?


  11. could not be more excited
    Though I would like American voices for U.S. games, I think it is a higher priority to get good announcers, and these announcers are all fantastic.

  12. I really like the pairings. Tyler and Harkes for the England/USA game strikes me as a great compromise.

    Clearly Harkes is not as accomplished an analyst as Tyler is used to working with, but (at least for me ) he has an association with the USA team that few other analysts could match. Also, maybe working with one of the great names in broadcasting will improve Harkes’ abilities.

    If we happen to pull the upset over England, I want to hear the voice of someone who is invested in US Soccer and is just as overjoyed as I am at the result; not the voice of someone who has read about US Soccer, or watched some tape of qualifying matches.

  13. I don’t think it is absolutely necessary to have an American commentator for the US matches. What you need are people, regardless of where they’re from, who are good at commentating. Being familiar with a team has nothing to do with how good a commentator you are. Martin Tyler, for instance, is good even if the match involves non-English teams. I’m hoping that Harkes will defer to Martin Tyler and not talk as much as he usually does. My main problem with the majority of American commentators is that they talk too much and feel they have to fill in the air time with talk. Sometimes, saying nothing and letting the match speak for itself makes the experience much more enjoyable.

    Are the matches going to be shown on ESPN Deportes?

    1. no matches on ESPN deportes because Univision/Telefutura own the rights to spanish commentated matches in the U.S.

  14. glad to hear that I’m not the only one happy that it is a predominantly English broadcast booth. Maybe it is because I grew up watching EPL but there is a certain quality the English commentators have that the American commentators lack.

  15. John Harkes is absolutely terrible. He makes me want to mute the tv and watch with no sound. I bet by the end of the tournament, Martin Tyler will be so tired of having to talk over Harkes’ endless nasally ramblings that he punches him in the face. haha

  16. British commentators are so very boring. I wish i knew spanish, because the spanish-language commentators sound hyped up and excited, and are a much more entertaining listen, even if i don’t understand a word they say.

  17. Different sports call for different types of commentators. Growing up with Martin Tyler as the voice of football I personally prefer an English commentator to an American. On the other hand I would not want Martin Tyler to do commentary on the NHL and the like. I guess what I’m trying to say is “whatever floats your boat” and in my case I prefer Martin Tyler to any of the American commentators, who I’m sure are nice people, but horrible football commentators in my mind.

  18. How I wish they would lay off the goal tender for England. I think Mr. Green is beating himself up enough without the commentators beating “the dead horse to death.” Have they not anything else to say?

  19. When Harkes blathered on today about Buddle overcoming adversity to get where he is, Harkes reminded me that he really didn’t go to too many classes at UVA. I was ecstatic when ESPN announced their broadcast teams and it didn’t include Harkes. I missed it when ESPN changed their minds, I wish their was a way to mute Harkes. I am afraid the South African vuvuzelas aren’t doing the trick yet.

  20. Harkes is terrible and it has nothing to do with him being from the US, he’s just no good. All he does is spout platitudes, “Good shot,” “Nice corner,” “Hard tackle,” while missing developing strategies, praising genius moments of skill, or offering us any real insight.

    I’m all for an American commentator, but why not Phil Schoen, who does a fantastic job as Ray Hudson’s foil? Schoen knows exactly what he’s talking about, he knows all the players and he doesn’t feel it’s necessary to keep blathering on when he has nothing to say. Surely, ESPN could have poached them from Gol TV for the tournament?

    Harks blows!!

  21. As bad as John Harkes was on the field, I prefer him there than in the announcer’s booth. The worst part is, his ramblings resemble diarrhea of the mouth. The only guy worse than him is Bruce Arena, who talks just to hear the sound of his voice. MUTE button!!!

  22. Oh NOOOO! Not again, another World Cup game, and again, we all had to put up with very crude British accent and all their Propaganda and non-stop brainwashing, even thou the Brits are the most Racist, Biased and dead last in Football, we are all forced to hear the following crap in everygame non-stop: Liverpool, Stoke, EPL, EPL, Liverpool, Chelsea, EPL, United, bla bla bla, bla, WOW! How arrogant of the British morons to keep trying to Brainwash the whole US soccer fans with all British Boring Crap, Its all so very sick!

    1. First of all – you’re full of it.

      Secondly – the best thing that can happen for soccer in the US is to get more people interested in the EPL and MLS. the EPL is the most exciting league to watch in the world (any team can win ANY game) and the fact that they speak english makes it a no-brainer.

      Third – Watched a game with Harkes commenting yesterday and today, and i wish he would just STFU sometimes. He keeps interrupting his co-commentator, talks fast so he can squeeze a bunch of BS in, and somehow manages to segway to a US player out of nothing! At least the EPL mentions from the (superior) brit commentators are directly related to the PLAYERS ON THE FREAKING FIELD. Harkes hears Everton mentioned and immediately screams “HOWARD”, or a discussion about Wigan and he mentions Dempsey’s game with Fulham against Wigan? WTF?

      ’tis a sad day when Harkes is trying to pull a JP on us, stick to the game, speak a bit slower, and lay off all the …… well just STHU – the other commentator has done plenty of games solo, and it’s looking like they’d be better off as such…

  23. I love martin tyler, but for me I think Ian Darke is better he adds a little more in his calling and I love the fact he will be calling the USA game vs. Slovenia.

  24. John Harkes has to be one of the worst commentators I have heard so far. He adds nothing and states the obvious. His drone, lack of commentating imagination and lack of spirit, is matched only by that of the vuvuvzelas. He single-handedly has the ability to kill the spirit of the game. He is absolutely awful. I actually had to change channels to non-english commentary. While I cannot understand the language, I know and feel what they are talking about, and can feel their zest for the game.

    1. Have to agree – can’t understand why people here are raving about Ian Darke. Typical moronic commentary from an Alan Partridge clone. Example today: “Someone up there must like New Zealand … and probably someone down here too!”
      Example of overexcited hype, yesterday: “You HAVE to watch Brazil. EVERY time.”

      And Ekoku – wtf? Dull monotone, says nothing of interest, no insight, and the most mind-numbing “humour” imaginable. Apparently he’s played the game, but it’s not evident in his comments.

      What a contrast with the studio (Gullit, McManaman, et al) who are all excellent.

      1. Ian Darke sounds like one of those consonant-constipated Brits who are speaking by modulating their gut instead of speaking from their lungs.

        I suppose the idea is that he is supposed to sound intense and excited, but instead he sounds, well, just constipated, as if he is is calling the game while sitting on a toilet trying to squeeze out a big one.

        The words he say are not all that bad, but good God, man, let up unless you want a coronary or a hernia.

        John Harkes speaks platitudes but he can be a relief because at least he sounds pleasant compared with Darke.

  25. I’m American, I want the US to win as much as the next American, but please can they do something about john harkes’s blatant, abrasive commentating style? I’m not watching the game to hear some overly-biased, whiny and blatant pro-US commentator complain about every call that goes against the US by the referee. HE’S A COMMENTATOR. HE’S SUPPOSED TO BE IMPARTIAL AND UNBIASED IN HIS COVERAGE OF THE MATCH. I thought he was bad in yesterday’s Korea vs. Argentina game, but this is just atrocious in today’s slovenia vs. US game. I’ll agree, that foul that was called on the US’s 3rd goal was complete BS, but even before that Harkes just moans and whines about how the US players are getting treated so unfairly. If you listen to the game, you will see multiple times where Harkes’s English partner Martin Tyler has to keep him in check and constantly remind him to be unbiased in his coverage. Harkes’s commentating is more annoying than the vuvuzelas

  26. OMG, This commentors are so boring… sometimes when there is a goal , u barely know what happened… is like they are talking on a funeral….

  27. I wish I could understand the commentator in the Spain/Honduras game, his accent is so heavy that I don’t know what he is saying half the time!

  28. I don’t understand why John Harkes has been on the air every day. He is the worst commentator ESPN has yet they assign him to a game every day. What a waste. Good thing I know how to use my mute button.

  29. I think espn has done US soccer a disservice by going 100% with brits calling the WC. US soccer is already a disadvantage by the shear fact that we speak the same language as the UK. Ian Darke and Derek Rae call a good game, but Martin Tyler sounds like he’s sleeping and Robbie Mustoe spouts out everything bad about English soccer when he applauds professional fouls and boring defensive tactics. I also cannot stand hearing Americans try sound cool by saying things like “nil” and “pitch” -soooo annoying.

    1. Maybe American’s aren’t saying “Nil” to sound “cool”, but because that’s the common term used for Zero in football. And “pitch” is the general term used in the Laws of the Game as shorthand for “the Field of Play”. So again, it’s a fairly standard term.

      Just like during a tennis match, people say 40-Love, not 40-zero. And they call the playing area a tennis court rather than a tennis field. Or maybe they’re just trying to be “cool” too?

  30. OMG Efan Ekoku is TERRIBLE. Boring voice and annoying as hell attempts at humor.

    He doesn’t add a damn thing to the game.

  31. Efan Ekoku is terrible. I would rather listen to a dumb American explain offsides to me than have this dolt talk.

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