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Gus Johnson is Just the Start of FOX Sports’ Soccer Issues

fox sports out of touch soccer Gus Johnson is Just the Start of FOX Sports Soccer Issues

Gus Johnson is the least of FOX Sports’ issues with its soccer coverage. With just over one year to go before the network begins its broadcast of a worldwide soccer event — the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup — FOX Sports is more out of touch and disconnected from the average soccer fan in the United States than ever before.

Discontent is growing among soccer fans who are becoming aggravated by FOX Sports’s seemingly unwillingness to change and improve its coverage. The network keeps on making the same mistakes over and over again, with no clear vision of what it wants its soccer coverage to be.

Take, for example, its decision to hire Piers Morgan as a panelist on Saturday’s FA Cup coverage of Arsenal against Wigan Athletic. While he’s opinionated, Morgan is a hack. He has no redeeming factors other than the skill of infuriating viewers — whether they’re Arsenal supporters or not.

With talent such as Piers Morgan and Gus Johnson on its books, it’s almost as if FOX Sports is deliberately trying to upset soccer fans.

While I believe that FOX Sports doesn’t care about the hardcore soccer fan and has its heart set on capturing the mainstream sports fan instead, the negative backlash the network continues to receive is increasing and is now having a detrimental impact on its soccer coverage and is being felt even among mainstream sports fans who are hearing and reading almost all-negative coverage. It’s one thing to upset the hardcore soccer fans, but when mainstream America is reacting negatively to its coverage, it’s another thing altogether.

Surely the network can’t continue this downward spiral. FOX’s idea of putting its own talent behind the mic and the TV screen is to increase ratings and to develop its own voice, but when the experience is so distracting that it tarnishes the enjoyment of the sport itself, it can’t help. FOX is getting in the way of the sport.

Meanwhile, both of its main competitors — NBC Sports and ESPN — continue to embrace the hardcore soccer fan, and the ratings prove it.

Regarding Gus Johnson and Eric Wynalda’s commentary of Wednesday’s Bayern Munich versus Manchester United, it was a mixed-bag. Last year, it was an agonizing experience trying to enjoy watching matches with Johnson commentating because it seemed that whenever Johnson improved, the co-commentator screwed up (as was the case with Ian Wright’s embarrassing co-commentary of Manchester United-Chelsea in the FA Cup). That was the case again Wednesday night when Johnson was much improved, but not flawless, compared to last week, while Wynalda put in his worst performance behind the mic to date.

From the beginning, Wynalda was a poor choice as a co-commentator because he’s been raving about Bayern Munich the past two seasons. While it’s perfectly fine to lavish praise on exemplary performances, Wynalda took it to an extreme during the game where he mentioned a couple of times his “love” for Pep Guardiola as a manager, as well as going on and on about the Bayern team. Meanwhile, Manchester United supporters and neutral fans had to put up with his talk, and his incessant discussion of overlapping runs throughout the broadcast.

The purpose of a co-commentator is to add insight and color to a broadcast. Wynalda provided none of that.

Where Johnson shined was during his calls for the goals by Patrice Evra and Mario Mandzukic. Both of them were fueled by so much raw energy and passion, which is where Johnson excels. Sadly, we have to put up with the other 88 minutes of the game where his commentary is filled with facts interspersed with mediocre to average announcing. This is not what hardcore soccer fans are craving, and I don’t believe it’s what mainstream American sports fans want either.

Do we trust FOX Sports with the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments? I think not.

This entry was posted in FOX Soccer, FOX Sports 1, Gus Johnson. Bookmark the permalink.

About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013.
View all posts by Christopher Harris →

51 Responses to Gus Johnson is Just the Start of FOX Sports’ Soccer Issues

  1. Lionel says:

    Fox’s football coverage has been a joke for the few years that I’ve been in this country. I didn’t know who Gus Johnson was till last year after his first horrendous attempt at commentating on a football match. Bringing in Piers Morgan as an analyst shows how little Fox cares about football and its coverage. Yesterday I watched the match through an internet stream instead of listening to the crap that Fox put out. I really miss the football coverage from the UK, everyday I watch Fox its like an insult to my intelligence.

    • Remy says:

      I don’t know why people complain about Fox so much. Sure, they use Gus Johnson and he is not that good. Big deal. The guy is trying to learn at least. Fox has provided me Soccer entertainment for years when no other channel would. So many people here say that ESPN is so much better. How? They would stop broadcasting any Soccer game if some American Football player went to the bathroom while the Soccer game was going on. They cancel ESPNFC regularly. I was never able to watch any BPL game when ESPN had it because I had no idea when the game was even on. Same with MLS. They have a contractual obligation to show the MLS games but they only do the bare minimum. In an ideal world, NBC would broadcast all Soccer games for all leagues and all competitions but that is not possible. I, for one, rather have Gus than nothing at all.

      • mike reynolds says:

        Gus is “trying to learn.” That’s priceless. Got that everybody? Gus is “trying to learn.” We now return to remedial soccer broadcasting 101 starring our star pupil, Mr. Gus Johnson.

  2. Joe says:

    Wouldnt be surprised if they put all the USWNT game on Fox Sports 2…

  3. Patrick says:

    I gave up, tried watching stream from some UK station and then some Arab station when the first failed. Gus Johnson is incorrigible.

  4. Gringo says:

    It seems to me that its now gotten to the point where people just want to complain for the sake of complaining when it comes to soccer broadcasts. There isn’t one British commentator who can even pronounce Brad Guzan correctly. Maybe we should start chatting more about the actual games rather than the commentary. I think Gus Johnsons passion more than makes up for his flaws, I love his commentary from USMNT games.

    • Cantona says:

      I for one would love to JUST talk about the game.. But that idiot ruins it.. From calling an own goal to screwing up the away goals calculation and the rest of his constant screwups I m not sure YOUR watching the game

      He screams… And some people think that’s excitement… Too bad he doesn’t know what he is screaming at, I’d bet most of the people that enjoy it dont know either.

      I really don’t know what Fox is doing.. It’s almost cool for mainstream fans to hate on Gus now. They really are a laughing stock. They had Judah Friedlander on?!?? Wtf? Nothing against him or Piers but what the hell are you doing as pundits??? Really?? It’s like Comedy Central has taken over the Fox sports soccer department.

      Just when you think they can’t do anything stupider… They do it. How many times will Fox jump the shark with their soccer programming.

      It comes down to how the advertisers view what they are doing. If I’m an advertiser for their world cups right now I’m looking for a Spanish translator

      Cantona—

    • Gary says:

      With all due respect, passion does not equate to knowledge or competence. Besides, you are mistaking passion for the sport to someone raising their voice at certain moments in a game.

      If you listen to Gus you are aware very quickly that here is someone who has little knowledge of the sport and is incapable of adding anything useful to the TV viewing experience. In fact, to the knowledgeable soccer fan he is very poor with his lack of proper soccer vocabulary or insight to the nuances of the game.

    • CH says:

      Preach Gringo been saying the same thing for a while.

    • Joe says:

      I agree 100%! The euro loving snobbery when it comes to the game, announcers, coverage, etc is getting old. Soccer in the US is still not taken seriously by most sports fans so why is it so hard for the actual fans to enjoy it? If the commentary really bothers you that much you have bigger issues. Enjoy the game while you can and forget the rest.

      • Cantona says:

        Then the MLS apologists appeared…

        Cantona—

        • Joe says:

          Haha says the weirdo who signs his name “cantona”…..just wondering why a commentator can leave so man people butthurt? Just have your parents turn the sound off bud! Issue fixed!

          • Cantona says:

            Truth hurts, doesn’t it.

            Cantona—

          • Rob says:

            I don’t want to turn off the sound, I want to hear the crowd noise and the sound of the ball; turning off the sound takes the atmosphere away. Bad commentators influence your watching experience and spoil the enjoyment, that’s why people keep on complaining about them.

        • Patrick says:

          I’m all for the MLS, I watch MLS games whenever I get a chance and find them on TV.
          With that said it has nothing to do with MLS appologists or Eurosnobs not liking American announcers and everything to do with the fact that he’s just a bad announcer and not getting better. I’d rather a steady consistant announcer instead of one hoping to get a big moment by faking excitement, especially when its clear he has little to no knowledge of the game.
          I find his commentary insulting, sporadic, loud, annoying, I could keep this list going. Fact is, he has no place announcing until he learns more about the game, can prove he can do his homework on the matches he commentates on (he can’t even get basic names of players correct). I don’t know what more depressing, people defending this guy or the fact that he’s still calling UCL games and is supposed to be Fox’s #1 guy for the world cup…

  5. LaticsFan says:

    The problem with Johnson isn’t his nationality, it’s that he is trying to learn football at the same time as announcing it. His grasp of the rules is still shaky, and even if he masters that he will still be missing the nuance that is gained over a lifetime of watching.

    The dichotomy between Fox’s approach to presenting football, and NBC’s is incredible. Fox buries football on Fox Sports 2 or Fox Soccer Plus, whereas NBC created extra cable channels and free online streaming so that we could watch any match we want.

  6. Saints Fan says:

    I’m just glad to be able to watch so many games live on TV. The coverage of European soccer in the USA is excellent.

    There’s quite a few commentators and pundits I don’t like – most cater for the so-called big teams. It’s always been the way. Just gotta live with it…

    One gripe. NBC – turn off that stupid ‘dramatic’ background music when you are showing highlights & the tables etc. Very annoying & un-needed.

  7. Smokey Bacon says:

    If there is any justice, at least Fox have overspent on what will likely be two of the worst world cups ever in 2018 and 2022. The one in Qatar promises to be an absolute disaster and a scheduling nightmare for Fox. Maybe they will abandon soccer altogether and leave it to people who know how it should be done. NBC and ESPN.

    • goatslookshifty says:

      Technology has changed television immensely since the last WC in 2010. Hopefully, in 4 and 8 years time, many other video/audio options might be available.

      • Clampdown says:

        Our masters at Time Warner and Comcast will ensure we have as few options as possible (and at the highest price).

  8. Bob H. says:

    I don’t have a problem with Gus Johnson. I’d rather listen to the international feed but Gus doesn’t bother me. I can’t say the same for Eric Wynalda. He is the worst sports pundit I have ever heard. It is he that makes the match coverage so awful. He makes it seem that if he were playing that he could have done better. Further, his apparent love affair with Bayern Munich and Pep Guardiola is nauseating Fox has been bad from the beginning in its soccer coverage, but we should not forget that it was Fox that initially brought soccer to American television in large volume. The problem is that they never got better. The production has never improved but rather has regressed. After watching the excellent ESPN coverage of the World Cup from South Africa I cringe to think what Fox will do in 2018. Also, the launch of Fox Sports 1 and 2 has been pitiful. Fox is not even close to ESPN and NBCSN. I doubt that Fox ever will be.

    • SeanB says:

      This x100, It seems like Gus is an idiot and he’s realized that and keeps quiet enough. But holy hell, Wynalda, it’s like watching the game with a 12-year old Fifa 14 Drop-In kid.

  9. Fernando says:

    As much as I want Gus Johnson to do well it’s clear that he will need more than 2 years to be up to the level most avid football watchers, of which I include myself, will respect and tolerate. That discussion is now one way. (This is in addition to the Gaffer rightly point out that the color commentator rotation has been awful.)

    And to put in perspective what Fox has done let’s think about this: imagine Fox has the rights to the Super Bowl again and appoint someone from the BBC who has never called an NFL game to call the biggest game in American sports. For that to happen Fox would need to have little to no respect of the NFL viewer.

    And now let’s talk about their soccer coverage…

    • AJ says:

      I’d actually find that hilarious if they tried that.

      A friend of mine put an interesting thought into my head. What if FOX isn’t planning on showing the 2018 World Cup?

      There are big sports rights up for bidding in 2016 (Big Ten). What if Fox tries to trade FIFA rights for Big Ten rights.

      Understand, I have no foundation for that. It was just a thought someone threw at me. It sounds logical though.

  10. tobyjim says:

    Gaffer, come on man, Gus Johnson is brutal. You say he shone at the goals yesterday and showed raw passion and energy. Woopdedo. What is it had been nil nil. A ten year old could easily perform his unhinged screaming and if that is the measure of his contribution then the bar is really extremely low. And that’s the issue isn’t it? Fox couldn’t give a monkey’s about soccer. I would love to see the reactions of all the Americans who feel the need to defend Gus because they think the Brits are having a go at him, because he can’t pronounce names, suffer Martin Tyler or Ian Darke calling the World Series.

    It is just incomprehensible that whomever is running Fox Sports would think the Johnson experiment has any legs. Then again for years Fox were a monopoly, they fed us the Sky feed and wrapped it with an unbelievably bad panel of so-called experts, presented in an NFL type format. Can’t watch it or listen to it any more. High-pitched excitable Rob Stone, dull as dishwater Warren Barton, the main man with the rest of the panel hanging on his word. Just so crap. NBC are streets ahead of them. Frankly I think that soccer was such a low priority in Fox that these guys were left alone for years. They had a monopoly, they had the numbers, and some idiot thought it was because of the personalities and not the game. It is only now since Fox lost the Premier League to NBC, we have something to measure how bad we have all known for years they were. And by God NBC have really shown them up haven’t they.

    But back to Gus, he adds nothing, he detracts from every game he is involved in. He might be adding viewers but so does every car crash. Of all his howlers yesterday, had to laugh yesterday that with about twenty or thirty seconds to go he was trying to give life to Man United and Wynalda shut him down telling him ‘Gus, it’s all over”.

    Would that it were.

    • David says:

      Wonderful, precise comments, particularly about his final howler. I just thank my lucky stars that these two idiots weren’t on the Chelsea game. I suppose we’ll have that to look forward to in the semis!

  11. IanCransonsKnees says:

    I’ve never had the privilege of hearing Gus commentate but I’d swap him for Andy Townsend. I’m not a big watcher of football on TV but the fact that I know he will be all over any ITV coverage makes me even less likely to bother with the box and stick to radio commentary.

    • AJ says:

      DONE!

      You will regret making that offer. Gus literally spends the entire game either reading his fact sheet, giving misinformation out of ignorance, or jut screaming.

      His hat didn’t impress me either. Looked silly

    • tobyjim says:

      Agree that Townsend is very hard to take but you might just change your mind when you hear Gus, Bad and all as Townsend is, at least knows the basic rules of the game.

  12. Mufc77 says:

    I literally wanted to die when Gus Johnson called a Bayern corner kick a “line drive”

  13. goatslookshifty says:

    It’s a utter travesty that a veteran AMERICAN commentator named JP Dellacamera is related to Europa League monitor commentary when GJ and EW are treated to two live ties in England and Germany. For all of you who think eurosnobs only want British commentators, many respect Mr. Dellacamera and would gratefully listen to him rather than GJ.

  14. rkujay says:

    I have finally succumbed to turning off the volume for long stretches of a gus commentary. I can’t seem to find a feed to stream here in Tampa. On a brighter note I didn’t hear but one ‘Mada’, and didn’t hear ‘MAN U’ until the second half. But the man’s lack of knowledge on footy just flies off the screen, doesn’t it?

  15. scrumper says:

    I think it simply comes down to Fox doesn’t care. We can complain until the cows come home but they couldn’t care less.

    And history is littered with defunct companies that ignored
    their customers.

    • Cody (#2) says:

      I want to agree that they don’t care, but why would they pay money for the rights to the FA cup & UCL? I get that they bid for those while they had the Fox Soccer channel to house them, but now they are paying good money to Piers Morgan to blab on during the FA cup game.

      I get the feeling they are just doing a poor job.

  16. Cody (#2) says:

    No mention of how they relegated Saturday’s FA Cup game to FS2? Do people even get this channel on reasonable cable packages?

    During one champions league game day this year, They had a decent game showing on FS2, and showed a re-play of a poker tournament on FS1.

    The day when the Fox companies no longer have any coverage of soccer couldn’t come any sooner.

  17. Rick says:

    It’s a disgrace how Fox is treating soccer. An example was the now cancelled Fox Soccer Daily show- what a joke. Learn from NBC and ESPN and get this right. Soccer is a growing sport followed by millions in the United States and billions around the world.

  18. Mute Button says:

    Hey Gaffer:

    Please use me whenever you watch football on FOX.

    Thank you.

    Sincerely,

    The Mute Button

    • tobyjim says:

      Or instead of giving Fox $180 a year. Buy a friend in the UK who has fast internet and sky sports a slingbox and voila – a one off payment and no Gus nor any FoxSoccer2Go recurring charges. Just thought of this, this morning and will do it next time I am in the UK. Wonder why I didn’t think of this before. My $15 a month to Fox has been pissing me off for years.

  19. Harry Cee says:

    Let’s be realistic, Fox just about lost everything to NBC and BeIN, so really why do they have to improve?

    They would rather burn the whole thing down rather than try to win fans back because if they are only broadcasting a handful of matches every few months or so…it’s a waste of money to them.

    God help us all if Gus is calling the CL Finals next month.

  20. RedondoRed says:

    Johnson and Wynalda are a complete clueless joke!!!
    How long are Fox going to stick with them, what a waste of money sending these two clueless muppets to Madrid to commentate on the Real Madrid v Bayern Munich game…I’ve had enough I’m watching the second half on the internet.
    WAKE UP FOX GET RID OF THEM!!!

  21. Carmen Sen says:

    I don’t think it’s fair to say Fox doesn’t care. They spend time and energy to deliver a product for many viewers. They are people like you and me that work hard behind the scenes and in front of the camera and are true fans of the sport. I’m a hardcore fan of soccer, been watching avidly since I was a kid and while I can understand how Fox’s approach can alienate us, at the same time it also is helping make it mainstream and Americanize it which I think is a great thing! This is the direction soccer is going in this country and we need to understand that and give it time. We should stop being so negative when we are watching the best teams and players in the world!!! American networks make it so easily available to us now and I appreciate that. Not something to take for granted.

    Oh and with Piers Morgan, yes he’s an opinionated guy and he also owns a stake in Arsenal so he actually has some valid credentials in speaking/analyzing them.

    • Cantona says:

      Fox employee

      Nuff said……

      Cantona—

      • Cam Sen says:

        Send me an email with comments or questions any of you may have. I am happy to listen and help. Will let the right people know so we can do our best in making things better for all of us. Thanks. Camellia.senemar@fox.com

        • Cantona says:

          I appreciate your open response, but you have seen the comments here and the massive twitter response. Please take this tournament seriously. Which means use the best commentators out there, aka Tyler ect… Your putting out a very sub par product. You would be best served in hiring Tyler especially since Sky does not have the Champions league next year.

          If you really want to use Mr. Johnson I first would send him to referee school to learn the rules then have him learn with some lower profile matches. His mistakes are just glaring, example when he signed off from Munich yesterday, this is obviously getting to him and he can’t handle it.

          I will send you some more comments to your email address, and again thanks for your open response

          Cantona—

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