Review of FOX Sports’ coverage of the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup

Coming just a year after an underwhelming spectacle in the Copa America, the worst was expected from some critics regarding FOX’s coverage of the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup. But surprisingly for some, FOX Sports has come through with solid coverage.

As we have now finished the group stage of the competition and enter the knockout phase, the time is right to give a full accounting of FOX’s coverage and how it impacts next summer’s World Cup.

Here are the highlights:

Absence of the USA helps FOX cover competition properly

The over-the-top cheerleading FOX Sports has subjected viewers to when covering the various US National Team’s or competitions the USA qualifies for is absent in this Confederations Cup. Perhaps the neutral viewer who just wants to watch the tournament should be thanking Mexico for the victory in the CONCACAF Cup in October 2015, which sent Mexico instead of the USA to this competition. Without the USA narratives to drive coverage, FOX Sports has had to do the basics right, which means developing storylines about the participating nations, and just cover and analyze the games with the players and countries that have qualified.

Without the USA present, FOX Sport has focused on analyzing soccer and trying to do so objectively. As a result, the Confederations Cup is proof positive the absence of the USA actually improves the network’s objectivity and presentation for the competition.

Studio teams

FOX Sports has featured far more studio analysis and time in covering this tournament than ESPN did in 2013. It is worth noting that the ESPN FC program, which anchors ESPN’s soccer coverage, was a critical component in World Cup 2014 and UEFA Euro 2016 coverage but it did not launch until August 2013, a month after the end of the 2013 edition of this event.

For FOX Sports, the broadcaster deployed Eric Wynalda to Russia alongside Kate Abdo who has been outstanding as usual. Guus Hiddink has proven a useful addition with some strong analysis. Back in Los Angeles, Ian Wright has stood out for his strong commentary at halftime and after matches. And Alexi Lalas, though inconsistent, has offered some very good moments.

Fernando Fiore hasn’t added much except for forced clownish behavior and obvious analysis on the set. Fiore is an expert on the sport and a colorful character but it seems his act is at times over-the-top and he isn’t being relied on to give the type of analysis he has for years on Spanish language television and radio. Mariano Trujillo has been outstanding when in the studio adding to the discussion not just on Mexico but also on the opposition.

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