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ESPN announces commentators for Euro 2016 Round of 16 games


ESPN has announced the commentators for the Round of 16 games in Euro 2016 that will be played this weekend.

The names from the Group Stage of games by ESPN that are not included in the Second Round are Mark Donaldson, Paul Mariner, Tommy Smyth and Adrian Healey (who will be announcing MLS games this weekend).

Euro 2016 TV schedule: Second Round

All times Eastern USA

Saturday, June 25

Poland vs. Switzerland, 9am, ESPN, ESPN Deportes, Sling TV and WatchESPN; Jon Champion and Stewart Robson

Wales vs. Northern Ireland, ESPN, ESPN Deportes, Sling TV and WatchESPN; Ian Darke and Taylor Twellman

Croatia vs. Portugal, 3pm, ESPN, ESPN Deportes, Sling TV and WatchESPN; Derek Rae and Alejandro Moreno

Sunday, June 26

France vs. Ireland, 9am, ESPN, ESPN Deportes, Sling TV and WatchESPN; Jon Champion and Stewart Robson

Germany vs. Slovakia, Noon, ESPN, ESPN Deportes, Sling TV and WatchESPN; Derek Rae and Alejandro Moreno

Hungary vs. Belgium, 3pm, ESPN, ESPN Deportes, Sling TV and WatchESPN; Max Bretos and Kate Markgraf

Euro 2016 match commentators on ESPN

Monday, June 27

Italy vs. Spain, Noon, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, Sling TV and WatchESPN; Jon Champion and Stewart Robson

England vs. Iceland, 3pm, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, Sling TV and WatchESPN; Ian Darke and Steve McManaman

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  1. Oliver Tse

    June 2, 2017 at 6:58 pm

    The major issues with Kate Markgraf (nee Sobrero):

    1. She mispronounced several names in the same broadcast when she was not working with Derek Rae (Derek has no tolerance for that.)

    There is no excuse for that in 2016 (and 2017) now that is available with crowd-sourced pronunciations of names from native speakers. Announcers don’t have to do what Derek used to do anymore: call a dozen embassies before each match to check the names.

    Mispronouncing names is a sign of disrepect to the viewers (the “customers” of the broadcast.) Viewers will see that the announcers is either lazy or simply doesn’t care for the quality of her work. That is very bad.

    In 1994-1995, Seamus Malin and I (and probably others as well) reached out to J.P. DellaCamera when he was butchering multiple names on UEFA Champions League telecasts on ESPN networks around the world. J.P. was being mocked and laughed at by viewers, including the small group of us who were watching at a hotel cafeteria on the campus of Cornell University in upstate New York. J.P. had to correct that flaw before he can become successful. He is now viewed by many as a “legend” of this business, having called multiple women’s world cup finals in addition to Champions League, men’s world cup, and U.S. National Team matches (men and women.)

    Another very good sportscaster who had to learn a hard lesson regarding names is Julie Stewart-Binks, who had a disastrous debut on FOX Soccer Report from Winnipeg because she didn’t check the names before going on camera. If JSB had not botched those names so badly, she would have likely been invited to audition and interview at beIN Sports USA (which bypassed her and hired Terri Leigh instead after she interviewed and auditioned there.) Ultimately, JSB got hired by FOX Sports in Los Angeles and had a very successful 3-year run on FOX and FS1 before moving on the ESPN (she still works for FOX Sports West and Prime Ticket at the regional level, reporting from local NHL telecasts.)

    2. Markgraf, like many of the USWNT players of the 1990’s, lacked tactical awareness at the highest level because they were able to overpower opponents physically during their playing careers.

    The women’s soccer co-commentators of 1990’s era, Amy Allmann Griffin and Wendy Gebauer Palladino, got away with concetrating solely on “human factors” in their analysis.

    (Amy Griffin is an expert in “human factors”, having studied communications as an undergrad at UCF, who can literally read anyone “like a book”, as I discovered one Sunday morning in June 1999 at San Jose International Airport over coffee with her and Derek Rae before they boarded a flight to call their next match. I don’t ever want to see Amy sitting across from me at the same poker table.)

    In 2016-2017, viewers demand co-commentators who call men’s international matches at the highest level to provide tactical analysis.

    The fact that the likes of ESPN NBA co-commentator Jeff Van Gundy is running “tactical clinics” from his own house in conjunction with USWNT head coach Jillian Ellis for the current generation of women’s soccer players tells you that even the 2015 generation of USWNT players are woefully behind in their understanding of modern international soccer tactics at the highest level.

    (And we know that the 2015 generation of USWNT players will use the 1999 generation to “mop the floor” if a time machine were available to transport both generations in their prime to be on the same pitch.)

    With that said, the likes of Kate Markgraf, Aly Wagner, Danielle Slaton, and Cat Whitehill (nee Reddick) can ultimately be successful calling men’s international matches, as long as they are willing to put in lots of hours to study and they remember to check EVERY NAME at before they go on camera.

    (Do these women want to put in the hours necessary the way Kyle Martino had to put in the hours to be ready to call Premier League for NBC? That is the big question.)

    Ditto the likes of Megan Rapinoe, who would be a candidate to call men’s international matches (now that she has run afoul of U.S. Soccer Federation politics in a much worse way that Eric Wynalda every did, so she won’t be working for FOX, ESPN, or NBC anytime soon and she may be through as a USWNT member) if an executive at a TV network that has no contractual ties to the U.S. men’s or women’s national teams (i.e. Turner) would be willing to deal with her baggage and take the risk of hiring her (i.e. to call Europa League matches off monitor or doing studio punditry from Atlanta.)

    • Cantona

      June 3, 2017 at 11:25 am



  2. Rico

    June 28, 2016 at 4:56 pm

    The worst announcers are the Brits; they are obnoxious and nauseating in my opinion. All they ever talk about is how great the EPL is and they are the least objective announcers I have ever heard. They always make excuses for England, Wales, Ireland, and Northern Ireland and they are always critical of the Continental Teams who actually play technical and tactical football not the terrible kick and run style of the so called Home Nations.

    • Taimur

      June 28, 2016 at 11:19 pm

      Mate I think you’re generalizing. Some of them are biased, but some of them are very impartial and call the game as it is. Their command of the English language is far superior to American commentators. If you’re talking about Steve McManaman, then yes he is a tw*t who grunts and moans every time an England player loses the ball or delivers a poor cross or has an awful shot on target.. But Ian Darke is pretty good, and Martin Tyler is one of the best.

  3. Tai

    June 28, 2016 at 3:10 am

    had a chance to watch the replay of Hungary vs. Belgium and to be fair to Kate Markgraf, she was a little nervous and you could tell from her commentary. When Belgium scored the first goal after 10 minutes, she froze and there was a long pause between her co-commentator’s reaction and her reaction. Maybe she was worried about sounding too dumb and put herself under a little pressure to come up with the right thing to say idk. I guess she did the right thing by taking her time and picking her words. But if she wants to make a career in football punditry, she should learn from those who have done it before and glean ideas off them.. In her spare time, she should watch a replay of a football match done by Martin Tyler or Arlo White or Ian Darke and learn from them and their co-commentators. She will get a better idea of what things to say and how much or how little to say.

  4. Matt

    June 28, 2016 at 2:32 am

    Alexi Lalas leaving ESPN for Fox Soccer was probably smarter than any move he made on the pitch!

  5. Peter Flaherty

    June 27, 2016 at 1:17 pm

    Ian darker is a patronizing so and so.Terrible if you ask me.Then Kate whatyamacallher is still pretty bad.I turned the volume down to watch the Belgium Hungary match.I wish I had access to the matches in Spanish.I don’t speak or understand Spanish but they are at least more livlier.

  6. Jeff

    June 27, 2016 at 11:54 am

    Please release the scottish lad ” are you choking on something” Craig whoever. UNINTELLIGIBLE.

  7. gordlane

    June 27, 2016 at 1:34 am

    Long time soccer fan: Best of the group are Champion and Darke for announcing the games. No one else is in their class. Twellman is by far the best commentator. Intelligent and speaking as a former player. Robson also good but very opionated.
    McManaman too openly rooting for the England and Irish teams, some of the others difficult to understand and Markgraf just a rank amateur who does not belong at this level commentating on these games. Her remarks are innane.
    Craig, she adds nothing to the game and forces me to switch over to the Spanish broadcast.

    • Tai

      June 27, 2016 at 3:43 am

      Agree with everything you said except “Twellman is by far the best commentator. Intelligent and speaking as a former player”. You’re joking right? I hope so.

  8. Craig

    June 26, 2016 at 8:56 pm

    Kate Markgraf repeatedly commented on how quick the Belgian counter-attack was. Hazard, DeBruyne, and Lukaku especially were playing really well together. Only Kiraly’s saves were preventing more goals. I believe Markgraf makes the most intelligent comments of any of the color commentators- clarifying the ongoing dynamics of the game. Maybe too intelligent for some audiences. And she is a woman, so she doesn’t have a lot of history commenting on the men’s game – a fairly recent development in several sports. This was for me the most entertaining of today’s three games. Hungary had chances but were no match for Belgium once the second goal was scored.

    • Potomac89

      June 28, 2016 at 10:05 am

      I am not saying she isn’t good, but to say Belgium are better when Hazard passes off the ball quickly instead of taking on defenders is so wrong it is laughable.

  9. scrumper

    June 26, 2016 at 5:16 pm

    Dumb and dumber ruined the Belgium v Hungary game for me. When Bretos gets excited he sounds like somebody is strangling a cat and the chick always sounds out of breath with her weird death rattle voice and stupid statements like “Hungary got here by some play offs, they shouldn’t even be here, but they are” oh really? who should? Pathetic.

  10. Todd

    June 26, 2016 at 5:16 pm

    Kate Markgraf criticizing Eden Hazard all match as he precedes to assist and score a goal. She is terrible!!

  11. R.O

    June 26, 2016 at 3:09 pm

    It’s too bad Derek Rae won’t be doing any games after the Round of 16. Was hoping he would get the nod for a quarterfinal game.

    • CH

      June 27, 2016 at 2:25 pm

      Yeah IMO Rae is the best announcer on ESPN the man is like a poet and actually tries to pronounce every name correctly unlike some of his fellow Brits. He really should be the #1. Champion is actually my second favorite. I will continue to say Darke is an OK commentator who was hyped because of his Donovan goal cqll in 2010.

      • darke...

        June 27, 2016 at 9:06 pm

        …is known as a boxing commentator in the soon-to-be-formerly-known-as-the U.K. and is widely derided for his football work on commentary feedback threads i’ve read over there.

        • Cantona

          June 28, 2016 at 5:35 am



  12. How in God's name...

    June 26, 2016 at 8:00 am

    …does Bretos have a job?? Moreno awful, tommy smyth awful, grown to dislike Kate more.

  13. dan chIles

    June 25, 2016 at 4:35 pm

    Alejandro Moreno should consider leaving his personal opinions out of his comment ,let the British do the calling

    • moreno

      June 27, 2016 at 9:03 pm

      he sounds like my friend’s drunk cuban brother in law. no offence to cubans.

  14. Craig

    June 25, 2016 at 2:43 pm

    Ian Darke is a gem as always and Steve McManaman a great sidekick. Most commentators are prattling on and on about what you are seeing right in front of you or what is obvious (e.g. the score). I like Kate Markgraf. She doesn’t say anything just to be talking. Most of her comments have been informative and interesting. For me Kasey Keller has been the most interesting of the analysts – also Steve and Roberto Martinez. Michael Ballack and Vincent Kompany seem a little bit fish out of water. Mike Tirico and Bob Ley excellent as usual.

  15. scrumper

    June 25, 2016 at 2:16 pm

    Cannot stand Kasey Keller’s whiny voice

  16. Tai

    June 24, 2016 at 9:12 pm

    Damn it. Kate is going to do the Belgium Hungary game. I was looking forward to Ian and Steve do it. I hope my viewing experience is not ruined. Otherwise, I will have to switch to Spanish, which I don’t speak a lick of!

    • Jean

      June 25, 2016 at 7:56 am

      Saturday Jun 25 2016

      I do not want to have a woman commenting on any soccer game. I agree with comment above.

      • JimmyJack

        June 26, 2016 at 6:08 pm

        Idiot. Its not her gender,.. the problem is that she’s a novice, stumbling over every other word.

        • Tai

          June 27, 2016 at 3:55 am

          I agree with you about her being a novice, but I also agree with Jean that a woman should not comment on men’s professional game. She should have been employed for the Women’s World Cup last year by Fox and the upcoming Women’s Euro 2017 (or whenever it is). Commentators and studio pundits should be men who have had experience in either commenting on the game back in the UK or ex-players from the anywhere in the world who have played in top European leagues (England, Spain, Italy, Germany) in the last 15-20 years. It may be more expensive than providing in-house training to your novice trainees but ESPN won’t go broke by hiring people of the highest quality, will they?

  17. yepo

    June 24, 2016 at 8:56 pm

    So the Markgraf experiment continues… maybe she’ll improve?

    • Tai

      June 24, 2016 at 9:13 pm

      Lol. She will still sound like a Yankee pandering to clueless novice Yankees. I can’t believe ESPN are training her on the job for such a major tournament. SMH.

      • yepo

        June 24, 2016 at 10:12 pm

        Yeah, I agree. My “maybe she’ll improve” was more of a wish than an actual question LOL. However, maybe she will get better, I dunno.

  18. Luigi

    June 24, 2016 at 7:43 pm

    Ew. How did Bretos make it past the groups? Mark Donaldson should be calling the Belgium game instead of him.

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