Let that sink in for a second.
Eleven long years of FIFA coverage from FOX Sports.
It’s as if a dark cloud has swept across the United States with the knowledge that for the next 11 years, FOX Sports will be bringing World Cup coverage to us in the form of World Cup 2018, World Cup 2022 and World Cup 2026 in addition to the Women’s World Cup tournaments, Confederation Cups, u-20 World Cups as well as FIFA Club World Cup.
It was one thing to consider that FOX would be bringing us World Cup coverage for the next 7 years through World Cup 2018 and 2022, but 11 years seems that much painful.
For an organization like FIFA to make the decision to solidify its partnership with FOX Sports for four more years seems fitting. If ever there were two soccer organizations who should be joined at the hip, FOX Sports and FIFA are it. Disconnected, and out of touch with soccer fans. It’s a marriage made in heaven.
Given that there was no bidding process for the US TV rights to the 2026 World Cup, it’s even more fitting that FIFA’s incompetence in awarding Qatar the hosting rights to World Cup 2022 resulted in creating the mess that awarded the 2023-2026 TV rights to an equally incompetent FOX Sports. At the same time, today’s make good offer by FIFA means that it’ll presumably pave the way for FOX Sports to rubber stamp FIFA’s future decision to switch World Cup 2022 from the summer to winter without creating too much of a fuss or threatening legal action.
FOX may see this as a win-win-win, but for soccer fans, it’ll be a lose-lose-lose as a winter World Cup will disrupt the FIFA soccer calendars, increase soccer fans’ anger against FIFA to an all-time high and further marginalize the appeal of international soccer.
MORE — Read the statements from FIFA, FOX and Telemundo regarding the announcement.
These reasons coupled with FOX’s big, bold and grating soccer coverage doesn’t fill me with any optimism. The introduction of Alexi Lalas at FOX Sports has been a step in the right direction, but he’s a bandaid on an organization that’s in dire need of a complete overhaul.
Maybe FOX will eventually get to the level where they need to be, but I’m still unconvinced. Nothing FOX has done in the past five years fills me with any confidence for the future.
If there is one beacon of light for soccer fans in the United States, it’s that technology will continue to change the way we follow soccer. The games will still be available on FOX Sports, but there’s no doubt that we’ll have far more options before and after games of where to watch and listen to expert analysis. That’s one reason to be optimistic for the next 11 years.
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