Mario Machado, an important man in the history of soccer on US television, died earlier this month aged 78.
Machado whose soccer commentary helped bring the sport into millions of American homes in the 1970s and 1980s was the first Asian-American newscaster in the United States of prominence, and was best known for TV news work as well as his acting role over three decades in several films including Brian’s Song, Scarface, Rocky III and all three RoboCop films.
However, Machado is best known in soccer circles for his Star Soccer program, which gave Americans highlights of English football in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He hosted the program for six years, which was aired on PBS in the United States. According to Soccer America, the show was produced by KCET-Los Angeles, which consisted of action from a single English league game trimmed to fit into a one-hour broadcast window. While less popular than Soccer Made in Germany hosted by Toby Charles, Machado’s program helped connect many, myself included, with the English game.
Machado also called North American Soccer League games for CBS in the late 1960s and early/mid 1970s and was the English language voice of the four successive FIFA World Cup Finals in the United States beginning with Mexico 1970. Machado published Soccer Corner magazine for nine years beginning in 1976 after Pele arrived stateside, and in the mid-1980s served as commissioner of the second tier American Soccer League (ASL).
What readers may not realize is that, in the early 1970s, he was instrumental in the founding of AYSO, one of the largest sporting organizations in the United States. He also was a strong advocate for allowing girls to play AYSO, a legacy that can be seen on soccer fields all over the country on any given day.
The 1984 Olympic soccer tournament in Los Angeles was called by Machado for ABC Television. At the time the Olympics had no age restrictions on footballers.
Machado was one of the pioneers who helped create a culture and understanding where soccer could thrive in the United States. While most of the media’s attention regarding his passing was focused on his acting career and work as a TV news anchor, his importance in growing the beautiful game in the US should never be forgotten.
RIP Mario Machado. Your work as a soccer pioneer in the United States will never be forgotten.
Editor’s note: While browsing through BigSoccer this week, I was saddened to learn that Machado passed away in early May. For someone with such an influence on the growth of soccer on television in the United States, I was shocked that I hadn’t learned of the news sooner. My thoughts and prayers go out to his friends and family, and everyone who remembered his service to the world of soccer in this country.