ESPN has announced that Ian Darke is the lead commentator for the coverage of the 2014 FIFA World Cup this summer. Both Darke and Martin Tyler were in contention for the position, but ESPN ultimately decided to go with Darke, who became a cult hero among many Americans after his famous “goal, goal USA” commentary in the 2010 World Cup, as well as his regular appearances commentating Premier League matches for ESPN on Saturday mornings.
ESPN also announced today that the TV network and Martin Tyler have mutually agreed to end Tyler’s contract with the American broadcaster, and that Tyler is now able to pursue other FIFA World Cup opportunities.
“Following World Cup 2010, Ian Darke made a long term commitment to ESPN. That commitment deserves to be rewarded by Ian being the lead commentator at World Cup 2014 for ESPN. With that in mind, it was only right and proper for me to offer to stand down from ESPN’s broadcast of the tournament next year. I’m sure that Ian and ESPN will enjoy a very successful tournament,” said Tyler.
Tyler’s career with ESPN was focused on World Cup 2010, where he commentated 18 of the 64 matches including the opener, the England-USA game, the final and all matches played by England. His contract was through the 2014 World Cup, but ESPN decided to put Darke in the hot seat for World Cup 2014.
Darke will commentate the opening game of the World Cup 2014 between Brazil and Croatia, as well as the World Cup Final and other matches, including all US Men’s National Team games in the tournament.
ESPN’s promotion of Darke to World Cup 2014 lead commentator can be seen as a passing of the torch from the conservative and traditional commentary style of Tyler to the more talkative, emotional and user-friendly approach of Darke.
“Since Ian emerged as our year-round signature voice for soccer, his commentary has elevated our presentation of the sport to new heights,” said Jed Drake, senior vice president and executive producer, ESPN Production. “His experience, authenticity and passion resonate tremendously well with our viewers, who have come to expect the highest-quality soccer commentary from ESPN.”
Darke added: “I am thrilled to be covering another World Cup for ESPN, particularly in such a fanatical hotbed of the sport as Brazil. The venues mean the match windows will be ideal for the ever increasing and passionate community of soccer fans in the USA, who will see every minute of every game.”
In the United Kingdom, Darke is the lead football commentator for BT Sport, covering the Barclays Premier League and other major European leagues.