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Could Martin Tyler Be Joining the ESPN 2010 World Cup Team?


It’s just a rumour right now, but it’s one which will have most football fans salivating. Is Martin Tyler in talks with ESPN to become one of the network’s commentators for its coverage of the 2010 World Cup?

In an interview with Sports Illustrated published today, ESPN’s executive vice president for content John Skipper said that “we will have international talent. Everybody on our air will be a longtime soccer announcer.”

Skipper didn’t mention Martin Tyler by name, but another Sport Illustrated writer did a few days ago. Grant Wahl, author of the soon-to-be-released book The Beckham Experiment, published a tweet (pictured above) with the rumor that ESPN has been talking to Tyler, as well as Jose Mourinho and Jurgen Klinsmann.

In addition to the speculation about Tyler, there’s plenty of other nuggets mentioned by Skipper in the Sports Illustrated interview including the following quotes:

  • John Battsek and Michael Davies, two of the producers behind Once In A Lifetime, the 2006 documentary about the rise and fall of Pelé and the New York Cosmos, have been dispatched to interview every living player who has scored a goal in a World Cup final. (ESPN also plans to also air a documentary off the interviews.) Skipper said that he expects any holdouts from the 50 or so subjects to ultimately fall into place (Some subjects asked for money, though Skipper would not name them.) Skipper also said the network plans to “take a page out of the ABC Sports Olympic playbook and do “Up Close and Personals” on players from around the world. ESPN will do a long-form feature on at least one player from all 32 World Cup teams.
  • The game coverage will include four reporters, including one reporter embedded with the U.S. team. Another reporter will focus on the South American teams, and two additional reporters will rotate around the tournament. ESPN will have two on-site sets, including SportsCenter, and three host anchors offering live and tape-delayed coverage.
  • In terms of scale and magnitude, the World Cup appears to be a dress rehearsal for what could be a future Olympics on ESPN. Said Skipper: “I’ll answer that slightly by indirection: Our goal is to an Olympics-level broadcast. We view this as the first fully ESPN World Cup. We are taking SportsCenter there for the whole time and we are doing a studio show. We will treat this for what it is: One of the two great quadrennial sporting events in the world. So, by implication, we will treat this as the Olympics.”
  • The U.S EPL rights are held by Fox Soccer Channel and are expected to come up for renewal in the next couple of months. Skipper said his network is interested and does not have to have exclusivity. As first reported by Sports Business Daily, the EPL is making a three-year package available, from the 2010-11 season through the 2012-13 season. “We are very interested and we have relayed our interest to Mr. [Premier League chief executive Richard] Scudamore,” Skipper said. “We are interested in all kinds of soccer.”

Watch out world, here comes ESPN.

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  1. AJ

    August 30, 2009 at 11:34 am

    I’m thinking we’re gonna get 4 teams for this world cup. Personally, I start watching soccer/football on ESPN CL coverage so I must apologize right now but I always want to see Derek Rae & Tommy Smyth. I don’t believe Robbie Mustoe is wide enough, knowledge wise, to be in next year so I’ll be brave and say we get Adrian Healy and maybe Shaka Hislop possibly. Now I’m gonna go for it. I’ll go for Martin Tyler & Kevin Keegan. Finally, I WILL NOT HAVE J.P. WHATEVER HIS NAME IS AT THE WORLD CUP! I WILL HAVE DEPORTED BACK HERE IF NEED BE! I can’t stand him. But I will open the American door and say Glen Davis & John Harkes for the last team. Here’s a review:
    Derek Rae & Tommy Smyth
    Adrian Healy & Shaka Hislop
    Martin Tyler & Kevin Keegan-(This will proabably end up as Gray either way)
    Glen Davis & John Harkes

    I’m a tired of ESPN saying, “Oh look, the U.S. is playing. Someone get J.P. & John on the line.” NO! ESPN needs to drop this thing where Americans must be commentating on the U.S.’s games.

  2. Michael DiAmore

    August 30, 2009 at 9:28 am

    JP honestly isn’t too terrible — he’s certainly better than the rest of the crews ESPN are using at this point. The killer for the US was ESPN losing Champs League media rights because now they’ve shipped Derek Rae off to Scotland for their SPL coverage. That’s a HUGE loss for American soccer commentary, because Derek knew his stuff. John Harkes is a dirtbag, yes, but so has every ex-US player turned “analyst” that ESPN has hired. Eric Wynalda anyone? ugh. Rob Stone isn’t bad either, but he’s more suited to MLS than the international game.

  3. RaiderRich

    July 31, 2009 at 11:41 am

    As for the original topic. Tyler? Not happening unless one of the current at ESPN leaves between now and then. The announcers they have will be the announcers they already have on hand: Derek Rae, JP Dellacamera, Adrian Healy, and Glenn Davis.

    Mourinho would be better travelled than a lot of English announcers, and his English isn’t bad. My reservation is that guys that are good quotes when playing or coaching don’t necessarily make for good announcers. Also, would Inter let him leave for the summer? or would he have to quit?

    Has Klinsmann been an analyst anywhere? I know he lives in the U.S. in the offseason.

  4. Juan-John

    July 2, 2009 at 8:07 pm

    I wouldn’t mind FSC’s Roger Valdivieso for any games involving Latin American teams. Dunno what anybody else thinks, but I like his play-by-play of the Argentine Game of the Week (Unless he knows that 90 percent of those games are aired on FSC on tape delay and just listens to the Spanish broadcast for PBP and commentary ideas).

  5. AtlantaPompey

    July 2, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    Quality announcers is key. I don’t care what their accent happens to be. If they are Brazilian or English or Italian or whatever, I will listen to them if they are knowledgeable about the match, the participating teams, and will shut up often enough for me to enjoy the wonderful sounds of the vuvuzela!

    Just kidding about that last part…

  6. Gaz

    July 2, 2009 at 10:37 am

    Does anyone know the times that these games are going to be played in the US? South Africa is 5 hours difference, right? So we’re mostly looking at evening games, right? Any games played at 8 there (that’d be 1AM here)?

    As far as this EPSN becoming more interested in soccer thing… I’m totally against it. I’d much rather see Fox Soccer Channel keep the EPL games they have (or scoop up a whole lot more). If ESPN gets their dirty hands on the EPL we’ll be watching tape delays so that baseball, football, hockey, basketball, or even the World Series of Poker can finish on time. You may say they are interested and are pushing soccer right now… but if they got the rights they will figure that if doesn’t matter when they play it because no one else can.

    • Gary

      July 2, 2009 at 11:19 am


      I would have thought that ESPN would show the EPL on one of their other channels, like ESPN2, ESPN Classic, or ESPN “The Ocho”. I love FSC (primarily because it was the only choice around), but their match commentators are dreadful for those games not using the Sky commentary. If ESPN can poach some of the old Setanta people, I think it’ll be brilliant.

    • Mike

      July 2, 2009 at 11:59 am

      There is a six hour time difference between SA and the east coast of the US. So games kicking off in SA at 8pm would start at 2pm EST. The earlier kicks offs in SA would mean games starting here at around 9am EST.

  7. dageeza

    July 2, 2009 at 7:48 am

    What a disater the commentators were on ESPN last World Cup ! complete MUPPETS.

  8. Ian

    July 1, 2009 at 10:29 pm

    I happen to prefer British commentators, but Kartik has a point about Andy Gray. He seemed totally ignorant about the German team in the Euros except for the guys who had played in the Premier League and was really really condescending towards Italy.

    You need to pick British commentators whose sole world isn’t the Premier League. That’s why tyler who calls England matches and other internationals is far better than Andy Gray. Look it was obvious Gray knew less than Tommy Smyth about some of the players who didn’t play in the Premier League and that is saying alot.

    I know most readers of this site are anglo-centric and think that every good player plays in the Premier League. But dare I remind you that the reigning world champions had ZERO Premier League players.

    Knowing Kartik’s writing expect to see that reference to the USA making a FIFA final 43 years more recently than England in all his posts. ‘

  9. Pete

    July 1, 2009 at 9:22 pm

    American voices eh? Perhaps we should go on back with Jack Edwards, Marcelo Balboa, Julie Fowdy….I could go on with the list of crap talent that ESPN has employed to cover the world cup over the last 16 years or so, sending all and sunder looking for some pub to sit in pirating the BBC/ITV feeds from canadian satellite. Face it, most english speaking commentators who have the credibility and experience to do this job properly, happen to be British. Just look at the poor quality on the FSC produced content. Interestingly, the british guys they have over there aren’t too great either, but nevertheless, Martin Tyler, Andy Gray, John Champion, Alan Parry, etc. would all be great for ESPN’s first real WC production because they have spent so much time working for outfits that have been doing it properly for so long and know what they are doing. ESPN talent as in studio hosts, i.e. doing the Gary Lineker facilitator role, would probably work because they know how to lead a discussion in a setting with other more focused experts. Bottom line: ESPN has this opportunity to deliver to us what we have for years had to go to great trouble to find, namely credible football coverage when it matters most. No reason for them to go f*** it up just for the sake of keeping it “Americanized.”

  10. Kartik Krishnaiyer

    July 1, 2009 at 8:42 pm

    Great- let’s let American network TV which is being presented for an American audience be overrun with Brits who like Andy Gray clearly don’t follow other European leagues other than EPL and La Liga. That was painfully obvious last year during the Euros when he tried to analyze Germany or Italy and had little knowledge of what their players did during the club season and who was in form or not. It was personally insulting to me, someone who watches the Bundesliga to have a guy who

    1- knew zero about the German team and acted demonstrated contempt towards a team that made the fina.
    2- someone who clearly was rooting against Italy in every match
    3- someone who talked down to an American audience as if we had to be educated on football.

    Our national team just made a FIFA final something England has not done in 43 years. Football is growing here. We need American voices to step forward and take the lead. Martin Tyler I assume would be okay, but Andy Gray proved last summer if it isn’t English, Scottish or Spanish, he doesn’t know it and that is no different than the MLS snobs like Harkes and Lalas people on this website complain about. The World Cup is the World Cup and we need cosmopolitan announcers and American voices.

    ESPN should try and hire Andres Cantor away from Telemundo to call some games in English. Now that would be hiring someone worthwhile from outside.

    • dageeza

      July 2, 2009 at 7:54 am

      you obviously know SFA about football.

    • SSReporters

      July 2, 2009 at 1:18 pm

      American voices?

      Swallow some pride man.

      Marcelo Balboa, John Harkes, JP Dellacamera, Steve Cangialosi, and countless others are your American voices.

      Face it, outside of Dellacamera (who himself had a piss-poor Confederations Cup tournament), there is NO American commentator out there that is remotely competent.

      As long as the goal is to dumb down the commentary and babble for 90 minutes plus with occasional mentions of the game at hand, then I’m not going to stand for it just because we need an American voice.

      Martin Tyler would be fantastic! He’s called Serie A games, several World Cups, UEFA Champions League, etc. His knowledge and commentary is matched by no one here in the US.

    • The Gaffer

      July 3, 2009 at 12:31 pm

      My picks for American commentators that ESPN should consider, who are definitely above the class of JP Dellacamera, are:

      * Phil Schoen, and
      * Seamus Malin

      The Gaffer

  11. Gary

    July 1, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    Please make this happen. And while you are at it, get rid of JP, John, and the Angry Leprechaun and bring back Andy Gray. I hear John Champion is now available with Setanta in administration so how about giving him a shout.

  12. eplnfl

    July 1, 2009 at 8:16 pm

    Great news. ESPN in country for the WC. That is serious stuff.

  13. Lance

    July 1, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    Can’t wait for June-July 2010! Hopefully, ESPN 360 will be available at work by then! What’s will the approximate kickoff times be in EDT? 🙂

  14. Panda

    July 1, 2009 at 6:53 pm

    “Everybody on our air will be a longtime soccer announcer.”

    My only complaint with that line is that JP Dellacamera and John Harkes are still considered longtime soccer announcers.

    Technically, Dave O’Brien can also be part of the broadcast team. He’s a longtime soccer announcer as well. Err…well it felt like forever hearing him call a game.

  15. LI Matt

    July 1, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    Jose Mourinho as TV analyst…

    “Shut up, JP.”


    • AtlantaPompey

      July 2, 2009 at 3:05 pm

      Hilarious! …and I’ve wanted to tell him to shut up for years.

    • RaiderRich

      July 31, 2009 at 11:05 am


      Love S1TV. The JP hate is still out of bounds for a guy who made his living doing Soccer back when it wasn’t even on the sporting radar.

  16. arjwiz

    July 1, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    I wonder how this will affect viewers in Asia, who also watch football primarily on ESPN-Star Sports. It would be a treat to get this coverage (with commentary and studio analysis) here in India.

  17. edgar

    July 1, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    I believe now that espn is taking football seriously. I honestly believe that Mr. Skipper is trying to do all in his power to help make a foundation for the growth of football in this country. If espn can get some great commentators for the world cup, that would make a huge difference!

  18. Dave G

    July 1, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    Sounds like great news…been in the states 20 years from Ireland and my first experience of US coverage was the 1990 World Cup on TNT and their ad breaks during games!!
    …I remember watching Ireland v Italy and Italy scored during the ad break LOL…lost for words!!
    ESPN 2010 is a far cry from TNT 1990 and I’ll take that!

    • RaiderRich

      July 31, 2009 at 11:02 am

      LOL… don’t remind me. My Spanish got markedly improved by the end of that summer.

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