Top British sportscaster Ian Darke, one of the lead commentators during ESPN’s critically acclaimed coverage of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, will join the ESPN network as its lead soccer voice in the United States, it was announced today by Jed Drake, senior vice president and executive producer, ESPN Event Production.
Darke will be the primary play-by-play voice on ESPN’s U.S. networks for Barclays Premier League matches, the U.S. National Teams (Men’s and Women’s), marquee Major League Soccer events, 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany, the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. He joins ESPN after commentating on Premier League and UEFA Champions League matches for the past 18 years. Darke was widely praised for his work on ESPN during the 2010 FIFA World Cup, especially for his commentating on the U.S. Men’s National Team matches vs. Slovenia, Algeria and Ghana.
“Having Ian Darke as our year-round signature voice for soccer programming reaffirms ESPN’s commitment to elevate our overall coverage of the sport in the U.S.,” said Drake. “Ian’s experience, authenticity and passion for the sport, which were evident throughout the World Cup, will resonate with our viewers, who have come to expect top-quality soccer commentary from ESPN.”
Darke added: “I am delighted and excited to be joining such a polished and talented team as ESPN. It was wonderful to be calling the USA’s dramatic World Cup campaign for American audiences – and I am flattered to be asked back on a permanent basis.”
Darke’s debut as ESPN’s signature voice for soccer will be Saturday, Sept. 25, at 7:30 a.m. ET, when he’ll provide play-by-play commentary for Manchester City vs. Chelsea, live from the City of Manchester Stadium. In his new role, Darke will be in the booth live from Barclays Premier League match sites each week for ESPN’s U.S. audience – a first for the network. His co-commentators (analysts) for each ESPN soccer programming series will be announced at a later date.