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Should British Commentators Be Hired on American TV?


On Monday, it was revealed by our sister site EPL Talk that the legendary Martin Tyler of Sky Sports will be joining ESPN for next summer’s World Cup as the lead announcer. While I have nothing personally against Tyler (In fact, I like his style, and have seen him present two matches this weekend, since I am currently in India and here the Sky or TWI feed is given for every live match.), the experiment with Andy Gray in the Euro 2008 tournament leaves me with significant concerns about ESPN’s propensity to hire Sky commentators for international events. Moreover, I am concerned that American commentators are being held to a different standard than British ones by American audiences.

A segment of football fans in the United States have been vocal in attempting to get ESPN to be more British in its presentation style. Many of these “soccer snobs” simply assume anyone with an American accent is unqualified to commentate on football. These fans take their inspiration for the sport almost solely from the British Isles and don’t care for the domestic game, or building domestic talent.

Then, the issue of British commentators from B Sky B and their knowledge level comes into play. Andy Gray in the Euro 2008 tournament showered the American audience with mis-information (not knowing the rules properly on Holland’s controversial first half goal versus Italy, when EPL Talk author Michael James quickly and properly explained it on the website), petty blatant biases (dislike of any player associated with Chelsea FC) and flat out ignorance of some of the bigger sides competing for the title.

Had an American commentator, let’s say Marcelo Balboa, shown such an appalling lack of preparation or knowledge of the Italian or German teams, he would have been roasted on the message boards and by European oriented football fans. But in Gray’s case he was largely given a pass because his accent sounded good, and he must know what he’s talking about because he is Sky’s lead analyst for Premier League matches. Additionally, many who support Gray do not watch other European football leagues beyond the British Isles. So in fact, Gray is simply appealing to their prejudices and comfort levels.

Perhaps Gray can be excused, because the two national teams he is no doubt most familiar with, Scotland and England failed to qualify for the Euro 2008 finals. But ESPN who took a major hit in 2006 for the perceived poor form of its commentators should have brought in someone who would actually take the time to research the leagues which produced the most players for the Euro finals outside of the British Isles.

I should state that I believe Martin Tyler is a true professional who has often times had to carry Gray on Sky’s Broadcasts. Tyler will do a credible job, which Gray did not do, but why is he being hired to begin with? Considering the United States has more registered footballers in FIFA’s big count than England, as well as two dedicated all football channels, must we rely on Britain for our top commentating talent?

ESPN has had some success with British based commentators at past World Cups. Mike Hill did a credible job during the 1998 and 2002 World Cups. Tyler is a knowledgeable and professional presenter, but unlike Hill, he is actually going to be the lead commentator taking the job away from an American who could help present the game in such a way that continues its growth.

Back to my initial point: Why do so many Americans reject American voices for British ones? Why is Christopher Sullivan’s indigenous, knowledgeable, worldly and appealing style rejected for the arrogance and ignorance of Andy Gray? Why is Phil Schoen rejected for Martin Tyler? (For the record, I believe Tyler is a good presenter but my point is, why reject an American for an Englishman on American TV) Why is John Harkes subjected to the sort of psycho babble analysis that no British based commentator faces from our fans?

I must simply assume, that much like Asia, the United States has fans of the beautiful game that have a self defeatism and have bought into the virtues of the English game (note I did not say the International or European game) over their own domestic product. These fans cannot be bothered to support local MLS, USL, NPSL, PCSL or NCAA sides because they are too caught up in English football. They do not watch La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga or Ligue Un either because of either a language barrier or simple lack of interest.

Where I sit currently in Asia, the NFL (India’s domestic league) in India is facing a crisis of support. Why? Because the marketing prowess of the Premier League has over run so much of India’s sporting landscape. In the two weeks since my arrival, zero World Cup qualifiers were on local TV, while this weekend seven Premier League games were shown live. Only a single La Liga, Football League and SPL game were shown, and nothing from any other European league. This of course means, nine of ten live matches this weekend shown in India came from the British Isles.

India, of course has never qualified for a World Cup, and probably never will. Nor will Vietnam, Thailand, or Malaysia, where the story is similar with the Premier League running rough shod over the domestic game, and creating prejudices and biases within the Football supporter’s community. (It is also worth noting that only three Englishman coach national teams currently: India and Thailand employ two of them.)

But we Americans should aspire to be different. We should not be taking our inspiration from third world countries that were recently colonies of European powers. We are a strong football playing nation with a longer streak of consecutive World Cup appearances than England. We have been to a FIFA final in the last year, which is thirty three years more recently than England’s most recent final appearance. But by continuing to perpetuate a self defeating prophecy and an inferiority complex to a nation whose football record is not comparable to that of Italy, Brazil or Germany, we are in fact damaging our own development.

Americans should never be a submissive, subservient people to any foreign power or foreign interest. While football is not society at large or politics, it should not be any different. I am currently reading a compelling book, by two noted British authors (the book has yet to be released and will be the subject of an EPL Talk interview within the next two weeks) that describes the desire of the English to spread the Premier League out of imperial fervor. I cannot say that the authors opened my eyes to this specifically, as I have believed it in the past, but they simply confirmed my view of the situation.

The pity of the whole situation is that I like the Premier League, perhaps more than I like any other football league in the world. But the attitude of so many is that if it is not the Premiership or English, it cannot possibly pass for good football or knowledgeable commentary is flat out insulting. We should strive to do better than this short sighted attitude.

Those brave patriots who took on the Crown at Lexington and Concord would hardly believe that elements within the American nation wanted to return to Anglo domination. Thankfully, the majorities of football fans in the US are of Latin American/Southern European descent and won’t be easily cowed into giving up other football leagues and cultures. Only by fusing together and appreciating all these elements can the US actually develop an indigenous football culture that will rival any other on the planet.


  • If Chivas USA wins the West, Zach Thornton has to be strongly considered for League MVP. With the US goalkeeping situation beyond Tim Howard and Brad Guzan still open, perhaps Thornton can get his first real national team look since the early part of this decade in the upcoming friendlies.
  • I for one am rooting for FC Dallas to make the playoffs. I think the Hoops have played a positive brand of football this second half of the season in what at times has been a difficult MLS season to watch. The revitalization of Jeff Cunningham, one of the league’s all time greats has been a great story as well.
  • Montreal’s victory in the USL First Division final over Vancouver takes us into an offseason which is sure to be filled with fireworks. As I have reported extensively in partnership with Brian Quarstad of Inside Minnesota Soccer, the Team Owners Association, USL, USSF and MLS have had several meetings to try and resolve the impasse. But, I am told unless USL budges from the current structure and delegation of administrative functions, the TOA will be forced to make what is undoubtedly an unpleasant and risky decision. Here’s hoping that events intervene before that decision has to be made. The USL annual meeting begins in Tampa on November 18th, and I would assume any decision would be finalized before then.
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  1. Mark

    March 27, 2012 at 11:06 pm

    India doesn’t even have a national team that can compete on the
    global scene. You’ve been banned. Your opinions about Indian
    football are hardly valid…

  2. jacko

    October 31, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    deport the thick animal.

  3. jacko

    October 31, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    kartik,im from manchester england,a die hard united and england fan.its quite clear you are anti english,you are a disgrace and a full blown racist,maybe you should leave america,u little taliban supporting traitor.

  4. Chris Husing

    October 23, 2009 at 9:26 pm

    Mr Krishnaiyer–You blog reeks with jealousy that the Premier League is the world’s most popular football league. You forget that for many of us of a certain age, we grew up watching English football because American football was non-existent. Twenty-five years ago NASL had folded, there was no first division football to go watch, much less watch on TV, and the US national team wasn’t even playing regular matches. So we found other outlets. And in my case, a love of British history and the common language made the English national team and league a natural fit. That’s not to say we don’t support American soccer, but face facts, no matter what England’s record of underachievement is in major tournaments, their national team plays at a consistently higher standard against consistently better opposition. England usually has a major tournament every two years–outside of a World Cup, the USA has the Gold Cup whenever CONCACAF needs to wring some more dollars out of the Home Depot Center fans. The Premier League versus MLS comparison is not even worth making. Martin Tyler is a professional and there is simply no one in the American media of his caliber. Kudos to ESPN for avoiding another Dave O’Brien disaster.

  5. Joey Clams

    October 23, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    Derek: Yes, it will help. Soccer’s biggest problem in the United States is the accurated perception that its most visible fans invite jest with their affectations and presumptions of superiority. Both MLS “supporters” who just can’t imagine a game without their ninety minutes of intensity and discerning, analytical Europhiles do nothing but invite jest and perpetuate the notion of a sport overrun by image-seekers and denationalized snobs. I say that, by the way, as a player, not as a micrcobrew-propelled social scientist.

  6. Derek

    October 23, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    Can’t you just stop this whining and name calling? It’s not going to endure people to mls or soccer in america. Calling people snobs doesn’t help. It’s not going to help that i point out that you and many mls followers are merely soccer nerds, does it? If you want to stoop to name calling and labelling it goes both ways. Especially considering the majority of those calling people snobs or euro snobs have never, ever, ever stepped on a pitch in an organized competitive level of soccer. They are just guys that are spectators. They found the game after 2002. And they couldn’t play or coach their way out of a paper bag.

  7. forweg

    October 23, 2009 at 2:51 am

    Kartik, I wonder if the widespread domination of Hollywood films across the globe indicates an American imperial fervor?

  8. Ben

    October 22, 2009 at 2:10 am

    The question is absurd. It’s like asking should the BBC hire John McEnroe for its wimbledon coverage. Most of your column is complete and utter bollocks. What makes America America is that when we decide do something properly we do it right and use the best talent to do it. We’re basically going from the American version of Alan Partridge (Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! That was a goal!) to the British version of Pat Summerall. (Massive upgrade!) Of course it’s easy to slag off Andy Gray because he’s Scottish, has more catchphrases than your average Saturday Night Live episode, and because he’s Scottish but, unlike Tommie Smyth, he actually played the game at the highest level.

    • The Gaffer

      October 23, 2009 at 5:30 pm

      Hasn’t John McEnroe been hired by the BBC in the past for Wimbledon? I think so…

      The Gaffer

  9. max

    October 21, 2009 at 11:11 pm

    Martin Tyler is the Vin Scully of English Football – we should be bowing at the television while he announces. Voice, insight, knowledge, wit, & perspective – listen and learn JP…

  10. Joey Clams

    October 21, 2009 at 9:21 pm

    Preferring only American announcers for the World Cup is like refusing to have Mozart or Schubert played at your wedding.

  11. Ivan

    October 21, 2009 at 6:28 pm

    Just to start some type of controversy, the writer of this article suggests that ESPN should not have hired by far the best football commentator in the world, just because he is English. What an awful awful argument, and a bit xenophobic if you ask me(curiously enough, the author is an Indian-American; talk about a double-whammy)…The whole “submissive/subservient” sentence was, in fact, very disturbing on many levels.
    Martin Tyler is second to none. Not because he is English, but because he is the best. The United States of America is great because it has the beautiful tradition of hiring and attracting the best and brightest from all over the world(even though in the case of Tyler it will only be for a month).
    And as to all the anti-Andy Gray talk, he is entertaining, and the perfect complement to Tyler.
    And next time you dare to criticize ESPN for hiring Tyler, please remember that mistakes of nature such as Dave O’Brien, Judy Fowdy, Marcelo Balboa, etc. have in previous tournaments done a fantastic job at making thousands of Americans watch the World Cup on Univision…
    I wasn’t going to add to the traffic of this ridiculous article, but I just couldn’t help it…

  12. ChivaDeCorazon83

    October 21, 2009 at 10:57 am

    I just wanted to say I had not heard Marcelo Balboa call a game until the Mexico/U.S. qualifier on Mun2 earlier this year. I have to be honest and say that I was impressed/pleased with the play calling. Then again, I’m on the border with Mexico and my other options were the telemundo commentators (whom I detest), tv azteca (whom I detest even more), and televisa’s (whom I like, but can’t stand for Mexico/U.S. games). I’d like to hear more of the Mun2 duo, but haven’t found them elsewhere.

  13. Joey Clams

    October 21, 2009 at 10:54 am

    I’m sorry, Kartik. Andy Gray gets a pass because of his accent? Please. He’s credible. He’s earthy. He’s colorful. Do you remember what he said after some Euro tart writhed after a benign tackle? “Back in Scotland, we’d have jumed right up and aid ‘Is that all you got?'”

    Observers will respect that, as well as the fluid literacy of Tyler.

    Schoen and the others just do not measure up. I’m glad that they will not be rewarded for their laziness and mediocrity.

  14. Joey Clams

    October 21, 2009 at 10:29 am

    Hang on a second. Christopher Sullivan? He’s a nice guy and very polite. But he’s affected and illiterate. When are American soccer fans going to realize that sports fans can smell artificiality a mile away?

    Signing Martin Tyler is akin to the signing of Pele. He will only make broadcasts more enjoyable, that is, enjoyable.

    I’m not a Eurosnob but I’m literate and educated. I’m also of the working class and not easily charmed. There is an authenticity to Tyler that will appeal to curious non-soccer fans. He will not cheerlead. He will complete his thoughts. His voice will soothe.

    Bretos has some talent but he’s stupid and illiterate. I’ve always liked JP but he asks too many idiotic questions and dwells on the obvious. Adrian Healy is the real diamond in the rough.

    Harkes is improving but he needs to command the English language. Balboa is pathetic.

    Be glad, folks. Be glad.

  15. Daniel Feuerstein

    October 21, 2009 at 3:25 am

    Vague Halfie & Charlie: J.P. Dellacamera in my view is the best American Announcer for the sport. He is well prepared, he knows when to get into the action and when to have a normal conversation during the run of play.

    In fact J.P. is closer to an British Commentator than some of the others. I don’t mind a British Commentator like Martin Tyler, in fact out of all the announcers I hear from FSC on their Premiership coverage Tyler is the best. But it’s time to grow the game with AMERICAN ANNOUNCERS DAMN IT!

    Let’s have a school for “How to announce a football match the British Way”. I mean give me a break, this is pathetic if you ask me. I enjoy Derek Rae, Adrian Healey & Tommy Smyth. But it’s time to create our own that’s not name Rob Stone.

    To the last poster who made that comment named Kartik= Dot head. YOU RACIST PIECE OF SHIT! How dare you do that to him. Say what you want about his writing, but you don’t deserve to comment on anything else on here.

    Go back and crawl into the ground where you came from.

    • Lars

      October 21, 2009 at 10:10 am

      That racist fuck should be IP banned.

  16. Kartik= Dot head

    October 21, 2009 at 2:55 am

    Kartik hates on the British because the British conquered his people. If it wasn’t for Ghandi, England would still be controlling India. Get over it, Kartik.

    England>>>> india.

    The English are much more beautiful than indians. You indians look like you’ve been char broiled

    • man99utd

      October 21, 2009 at 7:30 am

      “Kartik= Dot head” –are you mad??? Have you ever been to India? I have, and the people are wonderful. I often disagree with Kartik, but not because of his heritage which he is rightly proud of. What does this have to do with football. You seem to make a good comment about Ghandi then disparage the people he loved so much. I would much rather live in India than the rock you crawled from under….what a prat!!!

    • Berlin

      October 21, 2009 at 9:00 am

      There’s a special place in hell for you. Karma’s a b*tch.

  17. Janney

    October 21, 2009 at 2:31 am

    Racism will do no good. We all live in the same planet and we all deserve respect no matter what color or accent we have. Thanks for sharing this. By the way, being a great sports fan is rewarding too! Here’s one from Premio Foods, the producer of delicious and quality sausage products in the U.S. They’re giving away free buy one get one coupon whenever your favorite team wins. Be a Premio Facebook Fan and check out the details. Thanks and have a great day!

  18. paulsepp

    October 21, 2009 at 1:57 am

    “Hello once again, this is Martin Tyler.” This guy has been one of my favorite announcers for years and for some reason I just like hearing an accent when I’m watching football.

  19. Jason

    October 21, 2009 at 1:35 am

    At Euro ’96 I had to listen to an American play-by-play announcer call Paolo Maldini – Michel Platini for 45 minutes during one broadcast. I will take Martin Tyler in a heartbeat.

  20. Berlin

    October 21, 2009 at 1:00 am

    +1 for Glenn Davis. His pacing and knowledge of the game are as good as any. In particular, his sense for when he should just get out of the way and let the game speak for itself, something very few talking heads are very good at. I loved the soccer feeds during this past Olympics when the only audio for the game was the sound of the crowd and players on the field. I’d pay extra to see that.

  21. Phil McCracken

    October 20, 2009 at 10:49 pm

    Best events call for the best announcers and that’s why Tyler is a great move for ESPN. It would be awesome if they could get Robbie Earle to work with him.

    Surprised that there was no love for Glenn Davis. Best US on-air talent (can do play-by-play or color) and does follow/understand the world game. There’s no one else even close in the US.

  22. Seybold

    October 20, 2009 at 10:46 pm

    I’d prefer to have a high-quality American announcer. I think it would be best for the development of soccer in the USA to have someone who clearly fits culturally. Right now, that’s Phil Schoen, and he’s it.

    But quality is more important than accent, and Tyler is much better than the other American announcers, most of whom are unlistenable. Good grief, when I watch football, basketball or baseball the announcers generally know a lot more than I do. I’m not going to listen to a soccer announcer just because he’s American if he obviously doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

    Last World Cup I checked to see if matches were on CBC, and if they weren’t I’d check who was on Univision.

    Lars is right the CBC broadcasts are consistently way better than US broadcasts. Their commentary on the U-20 World Cup in Canada in 2007 was superb, light years better than what we’re accustomed to on ESPN. Good pacing, intelligent commentary, and no sucking up to bad play just because it’s the home team.

  23. Frank

    October 20, 2009 at 9:50 pm

    Kartik, I have a real problem with this piece. It’s not your premise, or your very methodical and I feel fair dismissal of Andy Gray. It’s your desire to take Andy Gray’s obvious buffoonery and lack of knowledge and project that on Martin Tyler, who is the best football commentator ever. Gray is clown. He’s paid to be loud, brash and controversial. Tyler on the other hand is soothing, professional and knowledgeable. So, basically since one guy with a non American accent from Sky was a joke, no one else, even the world’s best should not be hired? That is just laughable.

  24. Kartik

    October 20, 2009 at 9:43 pm

    Yes, I’d like Christopher Sullivan and Ray Hudson. But that’s it. They’re basically the only American commentators who care enough about what they do

  25. Lars

    October 20, 2009 at 5:18 pm


    Who cares really?

    I like the combination that is employed by CBC, of Nigel Reid and Jason De Vos. Nigel brings the accent from Britain and Jason brings the experience of playing in the EPL as a Canadian. Both are knowledgeable about the game and provide relevant commentary, something with no MLS game on Match Center has ever had in my experience.

    I typically watch games on match centre from the MLS and think they’re some of the worst commentated games i’ve ever heard. Most of the commentators have little to no experience with the game and are brutal at calling them.

    I don’t care about the accent, I just care about knowledge of what’s going on, and the ability to differentiate between a penalty kick and a free kick.

  26. Michael

    October 20, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    Kartik – seriously? You’re making your point by comparing Martin Tyler and Andy Gray?? Really?

    That’s like putting down baseball announcers because you don’t like Joe Buck. Anyone who’s heard Vin Scully once in their entire lives won’t stand for such a comparison, and they shouldn’t.

    Standing up for the abysmal (simply on right/wrong standards, no “psychobabble” needed) John Harkes doesn’t help your case. In fact, Harkes demonstrates why US announcers DO need help.

  27. Kirk

    October 20, 2009 at 4:23 pm

    Think about that. The announcers were so bad that we would rather sit and listen to a language we barely understood, than listen to the American announcers. This wasnt me and a cpl friends either. This was basically the whole campus and 80 percent of the Athletics department at a major university. Im talking roughly a hundred people

  28. Kirk

    October 20, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    All im saying is this. Last year, all of my friends and i preferred to watch the World Cup on the Spanish Channel and none of us spoke Spanish.

  29. Fan

    October 20, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    Saying “Why is Phil Schoen rejected for Martin Tyler?” is along the lines of saying “Why is Jeff Larentowicz rejected for Frank Lampard?”

    They got Martin Tyler, not just some dude with a British accent.

  30. Vnice

    October 20, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    I didn’t read any of the replies…I just wanted to say something about Brit commentators. It’s not the accents…it’s the pacing.

    They move with the tempo of the game, where American commentators sound a little sluggish. I also notice that many American commentators try to pepper viewers with facts and force us to appreciate what we are watching. I think US audiences are smarter than that.

    I remember watching a Sounders game and I was so distracted by how the commentator kept going on and on about how “european” Qwst felt, and how “european” the supports seemed, blah blah blah. I was felt like he should have really shut up about how the game felt, and talked about how it was played.

    Anyway…yeah, it’s pacing.

    • timmyg

      October 20, 2009 at 7:46 pm

      What no love for Derek Rae and Adrian Healy? Sure, they’re transplants. But they’re better than every other pair in the USA, excluding Phil Schoen.

      And Kartik, its not that people love a good british accent. Its all about style. American sports have a lot of downtime, so in broadcasting school you’re taught to talk a lot and explain what people just saw to eat up some of that time. And also use a lot of hyperbole and gimmicks to win over the ever sought after “casual fan”.

      English announcers are slow, but don’t ramble. They respect the audience, and believe that viewers know what the hell is going on in front of them.

  31. C Webb

    October 20, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    To be fair to Andy Gray, a lot of people (a ton of people) actually got that Italy-Holland call wrong on first viewing. I know I certainly did.

    Also, the US will have the single best American sportscaster in terms of studio shows running the World Cup set. Rece Davis. He was amazing during the 2008 European Championships and although he made a few mistakes he got better as the competition wore on and also did exceptionally well during the Confederations Cup.

    Martin Tyler as lead announcer
    Rece Davis leading the studio show (as opposed to US Soccer’s very own cheerleader Rob Stone)

    MASSIVE upgrades over any WC coverage. Well done ESPN

  32. kevin_amold

    October 20, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    Is there anyone else out there that will watch the world cup regardless of who they put on as commentor?

    My hand is raised. I think the effect of commentary is WAY overstated. I like Martin Tyler, but I’d still watch it on ESPN if they did a Fanzone, if they put Tony Kornheiser in the booth, if they put Joe Buck in there, or if they had Jay Mariotti doing it.

    Well, I take back the Mariotti part. But you get my point. I bet most people will watch on ESPN anyway. Maybe I’m wrong though, I frequently am.

    • Michael

      October 20, 2009 at 5:20 pm

      If they put Kornheiser and Buck in there, I would be watching the ESPN Deportes version. Those two are awful at the sports they KNOW.

      • Michael

        October 20, 2009 at 5:22 pm

        Oh, and Jay Mariotti in the booth would find me traveling to South Africa to spare the mass US suicides that would result from hearing him talk in bites longer than 30 seconds.

      • kevin_amold

        October 20, 2009 at 6:31 pm

        Eh. I kind of like Kornheiser. All a matter of taste.

  33. Charles

    October 20, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    Let me start some debate:

    Here is the average reply, I don’t think the American soccer announcers are bad, just not good, and here are the reasons they are bad, blah, blah, blah….
    I don’t care where they are from just as long as they are great, here are the ones that are great, British guys #1,2 and 3.

    Don’t you think with those responses, Kartik was right on the money ?

    • man99utd

      October 20, 2009 at 3:31 pm

      What American commentators do you prefer?

  34. Charles

    October 20, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    Should British Commentators Be Hired on American TV?

    HELL NO. We need someone beside the JP and Marcelo type, nothing against them, they are fine, they just don’t bring that much to the table. What is needed is someone special, someone American that Americans fall in love with. The Howard Cosell, the Marv Albert, the John Madden. Bringing the boring British guy is great for EPL lovers, for the average American the USL, MLS needs to attract, it just convinces them that soccer is boring and for foreigners.

  35. eplnfl

    October 20, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    I had a chance to watch on dvr yesterday the Fulham game. That was the ESPN UK production, ok and Sky may have a lot to do with it, but I will tell you I thought I was watching a different game from what I have these last 10 years. The look, the camera positions, the announcers everything lead to a superior presentation.

    IF ESPN pulls that off for the Wordl Cup, I do care who they do it with!

  36. Roger Dunch

    October 20, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    Kartik, you make extremely good point vis a vis Gray but you are showing your own bias equating Gray with Tyler. They may work together, but Tyler is regarded as the best in the world, while Gray is regarded favorably by some fans and not so favorably by others. Your examples regarding Germany and Italy are well taken, and his bias against Chelsea is very obvious. However, he does know the game ina w ay Tommy Smyth and John Harkes never could.

  37. man99utd

    October 20, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    Tyler is simply the best full stop. EPL is my favourite, but I enjoy La Liga, Serie A, etc…However, I do not speak Spanish or Italian so that leaves me needing an English speaking commentator. Left with that there’s not many Americans I enjoy or even want to listen to. When watching MLS I’m subjected to listening to them bang on about things that have nothing to do with the match or players.

    At the rest of being dubbed a “Euro snub” it appears that our commentators are too influenced by the start stop nature of other American sports and they never shut up. We whinge about the refs not letting the game flow but put up with it from our commentators.

    As for the revolution you want to dredge up. If it we’re for the EPL football in this country would be where it has always been. You cannot blame Euro snubs for the lack of interest in MLS. It’s lack of quality by comparison. The ratings for the EPL is better early on a Saturday morning than MLS in primetime. I want MLS specifically and football generally to succeed in America, but dumbing down the on air talent in the name of patriotism is daft. Imperial fervour…Please, it’s called a successful business plan.

  38. alisonrose

    October 20, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    Kartik, I don’t speak for everyone but I’m sure I speak for many when I point out that the accent has nothing to do with it. When I heard about Tyler, I didn’t think “Oh good, someone with a British accent”, I thought, “Oh good, a quality announcer who will do a great job.” It’s not about wanting a certain accent, it’s about wanting a certain level of talent. To assume that we’re all slobbering Anglophiles is not just obtuse but it’s also insulting – as though we know so little that the only reason we could care about this is because OMGZ EUROPEAN PEOPLE. No.

    I don’t think that American announcers are by definition bad at the job, but unfortunately many of them are somewhat mediocre – they reduce their commentary to a lot of “Soccer 101”, which is wholly unnecessary. Think about it – the majority of people watching soccer games in the States are already soccer fans…they know this stuff, they don’t need to be told. For the small group of people who are maybe watching their first soccer game, I would venture to guess that most of them are watching it with someone else who is knowledgeable (you know…where you invite your “Soccer is boring” friend over and proceed to shackle him to the chair and say “WATCH THIS GAME, YOU’LL LOVE IT, I SWEAR” lol). There’s likely very few people watching their first soccer game alone…and for those few people, there’s a magical thing called Google.

    They also tend to mispronounce names a lot, which grates on me quite a bit. If we’re talking about some obscure player from Eastern Europe with a non-phonetic, crazy-looking name…fine. But some tool (and I can’t recall who now) mispronounced Cristiano Ronaldo’s name repeatedly, and I was like…are you kidding me? For one thing, the name is not hard to read or say. For another, this is one of the biggest football stars in the world, and you can’t be bothered to learn his name? That to me shows not just mediocrity but no desire to improve – and that’s where an announcer will really piss me off. I would love to have really great, quality announcers from America, but they can’t go into it assuming they need no help or study or improvement. That’s just arrogance.

    And speaking of that, Kartik – my word, tone down the flag-waving. This piece started to delve into seriously creepy territory with the “Americans should never be a submissive, subservient people to any foreign power or foreign interest” and the prejudicial knocking of “third-world countries” (seriously, dude – that was a really loaded sentence…). You can be pro-America and pro-American soccer/announcers/whatever without taking it that far. We’re talking about having a well-known, well-respected British announcer for the World Cup – we’re not talking about handing over the keys to the country to China or Iran or something.

  39. Jeff Ng

    October 20, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    unless one wants to hear guys like Dave O’Brien again, at the same token, those announcers must have an open mind, otherwise, it’ll be just as rubbish as with American announcers.

  40. Kartik Krishnaiyer

    October 20, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    I’d like someone who defends Andy Gray to address his ignorance about both the German team and the Italian teams and how those national sides respective players had done in the Bundesliga and Serie A in the 07-08 season.

    He was flat out ignorant about any player who had been in the Bundesliga that year. So to assume he is a great upgrade because he is Scottish and does PL matches and may have a style some people agree with does wash with me.

    As a color commentator he should have taken more of an interest in the players on a team that reached the Euro final. He gave ZERO insight into the German team or the players during the entire tournament. Sky doesn’t broadcast the Bundesliga so I suppose that provides a convenient excuse for him.

    Again, the Euros and the World Cup are events which feature superstars from multiple leagues, not just from the EPL. If an English based commentator is not going to do the proper preparation before a match to fill the gaps in their knowledge, then we have a problem.

    I cannot tell you how disappointing Andy Gray was for me from the perspective of someone who watches as much European football as I can consume. I had high expectations based on his work on Sky, but he just doesn’t know the continent well at all. That was plainly obvious every time he opened his mouth.

    Tommy Smyth can be silly and style wise is not the greatest, but truth be told he wasn’t flying blind about Germany, Italy, Romania, Turkey and Russia the way Gray was the entire tournament. Again no research, arrogance and not knowing the rules (Italy-Holland game) equals a bad tournament in my eyes.

    • Simon Burke

      October 20, 2009 at 12:15 pm

      I cant say anything he did about Germany or Italy sticks out for me whereas it usually does with Tommy and his onion bags. I do remember Andy sitting next to Tommy and schooling him in the studio between 2 games and laughing at how badly Tommy got schooled on national TV.
      Comes down to taste perhaps here Kartik.

      • Kartik Krishnaiyer

        October 20, 2009 at 12:20 pm

        Probably true- we all have to agree Tommy is a comical figure who we will miss (at least for laughs) when he is finally off air.

  41. noahspurs

    October 20, 2009 at 11:55 am

    IMO ESPN should attempt to hire the best possible talent to cover the world’s biggest single-sport event. If they are American, British, Australian, Indian, Dutch, South African or from anywhere else, I simply don’t care.

    I think many American commentators are judged harshly because of all of the lousy American soccer broadcasters we’ve had to endure over the years (Dave O’Brien, for example).

    Phil Schoen is the best American play-by-play guy. IMO, no one else comes close. I assume due to his contract with GolTV he’s unable to work for ESPN. But if that’s not the case, then I’d love to see Schoen given a role.

    John Harkes does an excellent job analyzing games. He gives you an honest assessment of how players are fairing, unlike many former footballers. I’ve no doubt Harkesy will have a prominent role in ESPN’s coverage.

    Bob Ley will do a super job anchoring coverage from South Africa.

    But then there are the likes of Tommy Smyth, who is DREADFUL. All fluff, no substance. Hope he’s nowhere near the broadcasts.

    Martin Tyler is excellent. Just heard him do England v Belarus. What a pleasure! Don’t care where he’s from, he’ great.

    Andy Gray did a very good job for ESPN during the Euros. He’s not the greatest ever, but compared to Tommy Smyth he seems like it.

    Don’t care where the on-air talent is from, as long as they are top-level soccer broadcasters. That’s what matters.

  42. YourMom

    October 20, 2009 at 11:54 am

    Within the same article, you rail against perceived “soccer-snobs” and their English bias, and then proceed to refer to FC Dallas as “the Hoops”.

    Blimey, if its a good row your after, you’ve certainly turned up to one. Cheers mate.

    • Berlin

      October 21, 2009 at 12:53 am

      FC Frisco should consider itself lucky to be mentioned at all.

  43. Simon Burke

    October 20, 2009 at 11:46 am

    Also Harkes is subjected to all the ‘psychobabble’ because he still bangs on about 1994 and his place in history. If Ray Hudson was on TV in England he’d last 5 minutes, much like Gazza did when he was doing World Cup coverage for ITV and Ian Wright is constantly pilloried (and rightly so). Your post is a little broadly painted.

    What has football got to do with brave patriots at Lexington? The melodrama in your post gets in the way of an interesting argument. Stick to the debate points and don’t bore us with hyperbole.

    As for slaughtering Andy Gray. I’ll wager he knows a lot more about the game than yourself and for the Euro’s was a good fit. I do think when it comes to a game for the US , in the US that you ought to provide your own experts for coverage. To say that Julie Foudy is the answer is wrong however and I think its fair to note the distinction between her and a Schoen.

    Arguably The US has developed into a fine football nation with its own identity. There is something very American about the support you give the USMNT. You yourself point out America made it to a final recently; albeit in a tournament that only American will remember but its a final nevertheless and you do pull off good results and play fine football. You passed through World Cup qualifying with ease and are international mainstays. I would say the game is growing well here.

    Commentary wise the American identity doesn’t necessary lend itself to soccer coverage yet but I think ESPN is doing a fine job this year. I dont like Tyler because he is English, i like him because he is the best. I personally always liked JP Dellacamara but he is not as good and thats all there is to it.

    As for India – I cant speak to much there but I know from co-workers they are all cricket and Formula one mad and soccer is more of an afterthought and that’s not because of the Premier League. Your post which is a little whiny about England – perhaps you need to be part of the solution and stop watching the EPL. That way you will get an American Martin Tyler right? Hmm. No.

  44. Vague Halfie

    October 20, 2009 at 11:34 am

    I agree that it’s not strictly American vs. British that’s at issue, but rather the amount of knowledge and broadcast style that does it for me. The FSC guys do pretty well in my book, but JP Dellacamera and Marcelo Balboa have us running for the mute button. On the other hand, Des Curran doesn’t give much excitement to the match, and nobody EVER knows for sure what match Tommy Smyth is watching. However, when you get the more knowledgable and more dryly sarcastic British announcers, there’s no equal; best American counterparts for that style are Max Bretos and Eric Wynalda.

  45. eplnfl

    October 20, 2009 at 11:28 am

    When an American network takes on a large project such as wall to wall coverage of the WC, extra hands are necessary. So for an event like the WC next year I say get the best announcers on board. So long as it does not become an all UK cast or any other nation for that matter say New Zealand then that is fine.

    On the other hand, we need to grow our own broadcasts and soccer media people along with the on the field game in the US. For coverage of the MLS and the US Mens and Women’s teams domestic announcers should be the choice.

    Interesting question, do UK broadcasters hire US announcers or experts to cover women’s WC ? We are the leaders in the ladies game.

    I know in Tennis the BBC hires John McEnroe for coverage of Wimbledon. So, American’s do get exposure in the UK media.

    Kartik, something you mentioned, above struck me as worth more commentary. The lack of a domestic game in India, which will soon be the worlds largest population. You indicate that there is little chance for a World Cup qualification by them . The love of the EPL can not be the only factor? I would be interested since America is so often dismissed for it’s lack of interest in the world’s game, then how would people explain India.

    • man99utd

      October 20, 2009 at 12:53 pm

      Cricket, it dominates the sport world in India. Spent some time there last year and whilst football is catching on, it’s cricket that rules. (I love both)

  46. Simon Burke

    October 20, 2009 at 11:28 am

    Not sure I have an opinion either way but you have the best for the World Cup this Summer irrespective of nationality. There are some poor English commentators (Ray Hudson and a colour man of Dave Bassett would be the nightmare team) but Tyler is handsdown fantastic. He is also the voice of Fifa games so that will resonate with an American audience. I personally prefer Gray over Tommy Smythe and thought he did well at the Euros.
    Will Tyler do the American games this Summer ? I dont know.
    Either way I am very pleased by the acquisition.

  47. jean-guy pepper

    October 20, 2009 at 11:27 am

    “Americans should never be a submissive, subservient people to any foreign power or foreign interest. While football is not society at large or politics, it should not be any different.”

    ^^With that comment you’ve just shown an arrogant world view that is just as poisonous for the game as the attitude of the “euro-snobs” you constantly villify. The fact is, football is a global game, it’s the ultimate example of borderless capitalism, a capitalist system espoused by jingoistic, but hypocritically protectionist Americans who cry foul when they aren’t the one’s who win at the their own global capitalist game. Face the facts: Britain is the epicentre of global football, not America, and Martin Tyler is widely considered the best football play by play man in the world. ESPN went out and got the best and at this time he isn’t American. Maybe some day the best football commentator will be. Shame on you Kartik, you’ve shown your true colours, and they are shocking similar to those of Jim Rome, Bill Archer et al.

    • Kartik Krishnaiyer

      October 20, 2009 at 11:37 am

      Britain being the epicenter of world football in your eyes is how Gray got away with little knowledge about Italy, the reigning World Champions or Germany who got to the euro finals. (Truthfully, anyone who watches the Bundesliga or Serie A regularly would have more knowledgeable than Gray about those sides- England and Scotland the two sides I presume Gray knows the most about failed to qualify for the event.) England is the epicenter of the club game for the English speaking world. It is NOT the epicenter of the international game. That would be Brazil or perhaps Italy. But certainly not England.

      • Tim

        October 20, 2009 at 7:49 pm

        I would argue that the epicenter of the international game is either Brazil or Spain. As of now i think it would be hard to argue italy.

    • i don't care

      June 8, 2012 at 4:45 pm

      How many British people are watching soccer with French announcers?
      0? Ok thanks for playing but you’re an idiot.

  48. todd

    October 20, 2009 at 11:10 am

    uhmm… if the Euros last year didn’t convince you that we need competent announcers for games, i don’t know what will.

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