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FOX Sports fakes soccer announcers at Champions League games

FOX Sports is faking their soccer announcers being at stadiums in England during UEFA Champions League broadcasts.

For the second Champions League gameweek in a row, the US broadcaster has gone to elaborate measures to trick viewers into thinking that their announcers are in the stadium when they are, in fact, in a studio in California. The first time they did this was during the first leg of the UEFA Champions League game between Manchester City and Monaco where both John Strong and Stu Holden pretended to be in the stadium calling the game.

It happened again on Tuesday for FOX Sports’ broadcast of Arsenal against Bayern Munich during the pre-game UEFA Champions League show.

What FOX Sports is doing is putting commentators John Strong and Stu Holden in front of a green screen, and then posting a live video shot on the green screen behind them. FOX Sports has been positioning the camera to make it look like Strong and Holden are at the stadium. The talent has even gone to the length of dressing up in shirts, ties and jackets instead of the typical casual clothes they wear when they’re calling the game off the monitor.

In addition to the visual tricks that FOX Sports has been using to mislead viewers, commentator John Strong has been saying things during broadcasts that make the viewer think they’re in the stadium. For example, in the video below, Strong mentioned on-air “Geoff Shreeves is with us down on the field” when he asked him what the atmosphere was like outside the stadium. Also, during the Arsenal-Bayern Munich match, Strong mentioned how he had seen and heard protests against Wenger before the game, but both Strong or Holden were holed up in the FOX Sports studio in Los Angeles.

While it’s quite normal for broadcasters to call soccer games off the monitor instead of being in a stadium, reputable broadcasters don’t pretend that their talent is at the stadium.

FOX Sports was reached for comment and asked why the broadcaster is faking their broadcasters being at stadiums in England, Unfortunately, FOX Sports didn’t respond.

Since FOX Sports refused to respond to our request, we can only guess that FOX Sports is attempting to find ways to match NBC Sports’ level of soccer coverage. However, NBC employs a team of talent that are actually in the stadiums they’re broadcasting from.

Not only is it reprehensible for FOX Sports to employ the tactic of trying to trick viewers into thinking that their talent is at the game, but it’s also damaging to the careers of FOX Sports’ two brightest stars when it comes to soccer — John Strong and Stu Holden. It cheapens their image and makes it feel like they’re lying to the audience.

Both Strong and Holden are accomplished professionals when it comes to announcing, so there’s no need for FOX Sports to sink to cheap tricks to try to elevate their coverage. Few people are going to think any less of FOX Sports and Strong/Holden if they’re calling the game off the monitor. But if the broadcasters dress up and are positioned to make it look like they’re in the stadium, it destroys the level of trust we have between the broadcaster and the viewer. In a time of fake news, we don’t need or want FOX Sports faking their announcers being in stadiums when they’re obviously not there.

 

 

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67 Comments

67 Comments

  1. Bodisapha Manish

    September 19, 2018 at 4:03 pm

    This practice is done by almost everyone in the business. It’s vastly cheaper just to pay a flat fee.

  2. Emmanuel Camilleri

    June 14, 2018 at 10:55 am

    Fox Soccer Sports SUCKS BIG time will watch WORLD CUP WITHOUT Sound

  3. AG1

    April 21, 2018 at 1:09 pm

    So sad….lose all atmosphere. Listening to FA Cup semi, commentary is embarrassing. Wish one of the other broadcasters owned the rights so we could get real feel.

    • dave seaman

      April 21, 2018 at 2:34 pm

      what the fox! soccer’s septic duo discuss like they’ve been there…. a handful of MLS games for one and no professional experience for the other means the only thing their good for is fielding glaswegian kisses. muting the broadcast is dreadful for a wembley FA cup match. with arsenal looking for a new manager, obviously holden’s extensive experience sitting in a LA booth means he’s going to be at top of the list. i guess it’s par for the course, fox’s news has nothing to do w/ the news, why would their football b/cast have anything to do with…..

      just don’t get why Lallas works w/ these fools

  4. Brendan

    March 14, 2018 at 10:16 pm

    Echo that . Real analyists at work .bring back the good old days . Of bulging the old onion bag

  5. Charles

    March 14, 2018 at 6:54 pm

    It appears that you are all too young to remember the great UEFA Champions league commentators when ESPN had the rights. IMO. no one on Fox or Bein today (even Ray Hudson) can compare for style, vocabulary and knowlege of the players and the game to the great Tommy Smyth, Derek Rae and Ian Darke! They really did the game justice. Can still catch the latter two on NBC Premier League and ESPNFC.

  6. Roger

    March 14, 2018 at 6:21 pm

    Both Strong and Holden are awful,I have just watched Barcelona v Chelsea all they talk about is statistics and what will be happening during the World cup. The commentary was very bad nothing to do with what I am watching. Tell them to concentrate on what there getting paid to do.
    Commentate and analys inform the viewer regarding formations, stratergies, changes etc.
    One saving grace is they are not as bad as BeinSport,… Schoen/Hudson they are the worst.

  7. james

    September 27, 2017 at 2:44 pm

    strong w/ friedel for CSKA-ManU – hit the mute button again! at least friedel played premier league for a while. why doesn’t fox just use the world feed announcers out of the UK!!! they are likely at the game…..

  8. james

    September 26, 2017 at 6:13 pm

    john strong is a dick! just because someone knows stats, doesn’t mean they understand the game. watching BDortmond-RM and with the sound muted. strong and wynelda are doing the game. i can’t take it! this is like the nfl w/ that woman announcer, all she has to offer is stats. for any avid follower, we all know the stats.

    but strong knows so much, surprising abramovich didn’t pick him instead of conte to coach chelsea. maybe he’s holding out for when wenger retires……

    • nosferatu

      September 27, 2017 at 4:17 am

      I swear, it took 10 minutes of play before Wynalda paused to catch his breath–and he’s the analyst! It’s not that he didn’t have some useful points to make–he did–it just took him forever to make those points. And any time Strong went quiet to try to allow the audience to soak up any atmosphere from Dortmund, Wynalda took it as his cue to add some more thoughts.

      I actually wonder if not being in the stadium to announce the game helps to create this problem for the commentators. More likely it’s just that they’re so used to the American way of calling sports, especially American football, where it seems that every second of air time is required by law to be filled.

  9. B.

    July 1, 2017 at 4:07 pm

    Best in the game are Ray Hudson, Phill Schoen, Matteo Bonetti, Andres Cordero, Kay Murray & Jeremy St Louis.
    BeIN Sports best in the house. La Liga Rules!

  10. B.

    July 1, 2017 at 3:58 pm

    I agree champions league warrants live broadcast, but who cares if they are on site or not, IF they are analytically comprehensive, un biased and know what they’re talking about. And the guy on the field is part of their “team” whether they are together or not.
    Jorge Perez-Navarro & Cobi Jones did a great job at Confederations Cup Russia 2017

  11. Greg Smith

    June 3, 2017 at 5:01 pm

    It’s sad that Fox pays all that money for Champions League and doesn’t use commentators that cover the European teams full time. John Strong is horrible and is the reason I don’t watch MLS coverage on Fox. Strong is the master of giving useless personal facts on players and coaches during games rather than actually talking about the play on the field, particularly the formations, strategies and adjustments the teams are making.

    It makes me thankful that EPL was wise enough to extend its American broadcasting rights deal to NBC.

  12. MAHLUF

    May 4, 2017 at 2:57 pm

    Don’t know if anyone noticed, but John Strong and Brad Friedel were on-site in Madrid for Tuesday’s CL semifinal.

    • vsqzzzzvsssqz

      May 4, 2017 at 6:07 pm

      WOW HOLY CRAP!!! Best broadcaster ever! Who else would have thought of that?

    • Oliver Tse

      May 5, 2017 at 7:37 am

      Did FOX fake that two shot of Strong and Friedel against a green screen again?

      I am not convinced that the two were really in Madrid.

  13. Your mother's Daddy

    April 13, 2017 at 5:24 pm

    What I can’t stand are these full of gas, cocky scottish/irish/english lads using idiotic terms on American TV, for American audiences. Fox is really scraping the bottom of the barrel. Here are some gems. “Purchase” ? What the hell are we buying? Blah blah… this “tie” blah blah… the game is 3-1, what “tie”? Game at “tea time”? What? I only drink tea when I’m sick. So what time is the damn game? “Fancy” ??? What?? As in cat food? Have these idiots been told they are blabbering to a US audience? Do they know where they are? You want to sound smart, knowledgeable? Realize who employs you and know your audience. Please use American announcers. Anybody but these haggis eating, bangers banging Brits. Cheerio.

  14. The Money Team

    March 26, 2017 at 3:01 am

    A tittle birdie tells me that FOX Sports (U.S. in English) is finalizing its lineup of on-camera talent for the 2018 Men’s World Cup.

    The 6 play-by-play announcers and the 6 analysts (co-commentators) will all have one thing in common.

    Time to cue up Bruce Springsteen:

    https://youtu.be/lZD4ezDbbu4

  15. Daniel

    March 25, 2017 at 1:08 am

    Fox’s soccer coverage really sucks. If you’re using American announcer like John Strong then at least make sure he’s got a good voice for it. This guy doesn’t. He’s annoying. I actually enjoyed Gus Johnson better.
    Anyways, if you’re telling me this guy is going to be the main match commentator during next year’s World Cup I’m gonna shoot myself. Get some Englishman!

  16. Blackjack115

    March 15, 2017 at 12:15 am

    The upcoming Turner partnership with the CL right couldn’t come sooner enough.

  17. hallicks

    March 10, 2017 at 12:33 pm

    Bloody hell, who cares?

  18. burnsey

    March 9, 2017 at 4:26 pm

    Gaffer,
    Any idea which game Holden and sidekick will cover next week? We have the Leicester/Sevilla, and City/Monaco matchups. I presume the other games would get the international commentary?

    • Christopher Harris

      March 9, 2017 at 6:55 pm

      FOX hasn’t officially announced anything, but I predict Strong/Holden will do the second leg of the AS Monaco-Manchester City game. All other Champions League games will have international commentary, yes.

  19. Nosferatu

    March 9, 2017 at 3:04 pm

    Thanks for writing about this. And I just hope that Turner Sports is listening and seeing just how annoying these practices are to Americans watching the Champions League.

    • Christopher Harris

      March 9, 2017 at 3:10 pm

      You’re welcome Nosferatu. To me, as someone who covers the soccer media space very closely, it’s eyeopening how many reporters are being silent on this issue in order to “toe the line” and protect their relationship with FOX Sports, ensuring that they keep their access to softball interviews with executives.

      We even had one of the FOX Sports producers posting comments on this page under fake names. I’ve deleted his fake posts, but ‘faking it’ seems to be par for the course unfortunately under this FOX Sports regime.

      • AJJMedia

        March 9, 2017 at 4:08 pm

        Sigh.

        They are really that bothered to have a producer feel the need to make fake names and spam this thread?

        Geesh at how some people just hate truth in reporting nowadays. And quite disturbing.

  20. AJJMedia

    March 9, 2017 at 1:04 pm

    They probably will do this all the way until the final.

    And it seems John Strong and Stu Holden will call the final in Cardiff live in person.

  21. Brendan Soraghan

    March 8, 2017 at 1:49 pm

    Could u tell me what happened to Ian Joy who anchored the Europa league games for Fox . He was with Bein Sport when they started in 2013 . He was only with Fox about a year or so . We have that Kate Abdo with her raspe voice . She was on the Champions League show yesterday .

    • Christopher Harris

      March 8, 2017 at 2:30 pm

      Ian Joy is hosting tomorrow’s Europa League broadcast. He’s been appearing as an analyst on the Bundesliga broadcasts too as well as the occasional co-commentary of Bundesliga games. He’s still there and working hard at FOX, just in different capacities to what we’re used to seeing.

  22. Bram Weiser

    March 8, 2017 at 1:42 pm

    As I posted on Facebook in response to WST’s post there about this…

    “YES Network seems to do much the same thing for its announcers and NYCFC matches, too.”

    • CTBlues

      March 9, 2017 at 10:59 am

      MSG does the same with the Redbulls games but they don’t act like they are at the stadium and I don’t believe YES does either.

      • Bram Weiser

        June 5, 2020 at 2:04 am

        MSG announcers generally are at Red Bulls home matches, but, as shown without camera tricks before away matches begin, they generally call them from inside MSG’s studios.

        In contrast, YES announcers do stand-up reports to camera before and after matches not unlike what Christopher Harris describes Fox having done here with CL — standing in front of an image that’s inside the stadium, though they get cute and never quite come out and say that that’s where they are.

        Chris, if you haven’t yet done so in a WST article, please look into what networks like YES are doing in this regard with MLS coverage.

        Thanks!

  23. Jon Long

    March 8, 2017 at 1:33 pm

    Since you don’t know, it’s worth pointing out that world feed commentators on Champions League are usually calling off monitor in London. Please fix your article to reflect this reality.

    • Cantona

      March 8, 2017 at 9:45 pm

      It’s 50/50. Pending on the matchup.. but you make a valid point

      Cantona—

  24. Deejae

    March 8, 2017 at 10:42 am

    Thanks for pointing this out, but it’s Very easy to tell when they are in the studio. NBCSports blow fox out of the water with their broadcasting.

  25. Brendan Soraghan

    March 8, 2017 at 10:31 am

    Both don’t have a clue . U needs soccer people from Europe to give commentary on the UCL . I hope Turner sports do the decent thing when they take over

    • URAN1D10T

      March 8, 2017 at 7:45 pm

      Don’t think they have to be from Europe, some of the beIN commentators are decent, Phil Schoen for example, everyone knows they aren’t in Spain and it’s not really a big deal. Fox purposely does nonsense like this and takes the obnoxious route, they do it in the rest of their coverage as well, Skip Bayless, Cowherd, Jason Whitlock, Lalas.

      • Cantona

        March 8, 2017 at 9:44 pm

        Phil and Ray are FAR from decent… if they were that good they would be the voice of BEIN Sports… there are NOT. Only for the Merican market… the rest of the world hears proper the proper world feed commentators.

        Phil and Ray would be Stoned if there were used in MENA or the Far East .. the rest of the world would not put up with these amateurs

        Cantona—

  26. Tony

    March 8, 2017 at 9:23 am

    Commentary on FOX when they do these games is soooooooooooooo bad.The sound is wrong and you can tell they are not at the game.Why not just go with the PROPER commentators on the live feed ?

  27. Fernando Fiore

    March 8, 2017 at 8:46 am

    Mr. HARRIS… I respect your opinion, but I think in your article you used the word “studio” when you try to put “stadium”… (in two different paragraphs)…
    Saludos…

    • Christopher Harris

      March 8, 2017 at 8:50 am

      You’re correct. Thank you el Presidente!

  28. Cantona

    March 8, 2017 at 8:18 am

    Obviously FOX intends to use these idiots for the semis and final.
    Strong is a absolute horrible announcer that has made numerous mistakes on interpreting the laws of the games… Holden is fine, but hasnt a clue about European football. We are going though GUS JOHNSON 2.0 here.. when will they realize?!! Even BeinSport MENA uses the world feed. Im done spending energy on this though… IPTV is here and is here to stay.. BT Sport or any other World Feed is available..so finding option to these idiots is very easy to find.

    Cantona—

    • Perry Sky

      March 8, 2017 at 2:39 pm

      Uh, Holden played in the Premier League and grew up in Scotland, I’m pretty sure that gives him a “clue” about European football, no???

      • URAN1D10T

        March 8, 2017 at 7:42 pm

        True but Stu Holden has also played in the same number of Champions League matches as all of us commentating on here.

      • Cantona

        March 8, 2017 at 9:38 pm

        And how many Champions League matches has he played in? If your not ingrained if Europeon football you shouldn’t be commentating on it. Stretching a passport qualification as a an expert for Euro football is idiotic.

        Cantona—

    • John G.

      May 4, 2017 at 1:23 pm

      We need Martin Tyler and Stewart Robson to call the Champions League final.

  29. Mac Baumgartner

    March 8, 2017 at 12:11 am

    I’ve been wondering why they don’t use the world feed announcers, so thanks for the article (& the comments). It’s infuriating to listen to since they insist on mis-pronounced, “American-version” of players last names, know zero history of players or teams, & it’s all disrespectful to the sport. I think it goes back to the MLS way of trying to popularize soccer in US by using different “Americanized” rules, clock, etc. but they finally realized soccer fans wanted REAL soccer & gave in, so continuing to “do things their own way” is ridiculous (& infuriating). Bundesliga coverage is unwatchable for same reason….if Pulisic decides to pronounce his name different then it’s fine but changing everyone’s is disrespectful. I want FOX to succeed (ESPN being a monopoly,) but this isn’t helping their chances.

    • CTBlues

      March 8, 2017 at 12:40 pm

      ESPN’s days of being a monopoly are numbered. They are losing subscribers thus dollars and paid way too much for one NFL game a week and college sports that they are not biding on anything anymore and are now laying off on-air talent.

      • Kei

        March 9, 2017 at 12:19 am

        FS1 reportedly lost more subscribers last month than ESPN, which frankly is just as well. The sooner Fox Sports destroys itself, the better.

  30. Jess

    March 7, 2017 at 9:11 pm

    Why Fox Sports doesn’t follow NBCSN formula is baffling. NBC uses commentators who are at the game and moreover the commentators have abundant knowledge of the players, managers, clubs and the league.

    It would also cost Fox less money if they used the international feed as they would not have to pay for the local commentators. It would be different if the local commentators were good enough that they enhanced the viewing experience.

  31. John

    March 7, 2017 at 9:00 pm

    Agree that John Strong is irritating. Occasionally he sounds like Gus Johnson (occasionally, but never that bad).

  32. Joe Schmo

    March 7, 2017 at 8:57 pm

    Second rate company with regards to soccer coverage. I just wish they would use the world feed announcers instead of their own. Ecstatic that they lost the EPL several years ago and now the CL to Turner. All they have left is the Bundesliga and FA Cup. Good riddance.

    • Fernando Fiore

      March 8, 2017 at 8:39 am

      Don’t forget…we also have 3 WORLD CUPS…and everything FIFA until 2026…(Confederations…U20..U17…Women’s WC..Beach Soccer…etc….) …and MLS…and GOLD CUP ….saludos Joe

      • URAN1D10T

        March 8, 2017 at 7:40 pm

        Besides the World Cups mens and womens nobody is watching much of that, plus Telemundo has the rights also, so for anyone that doesn’t know Spanish you should learn a little or learn by watching, they will have Andres Cantor calling the matches so no reason to give ratings to the Buffoons on Fox like Stone, Fiore, Lalas etc all.

    • Andy

      March 11, 2017 at 7:15 am

      “I just wish they would use the world feed announcers instead of their own”

      Careful what you wish for. You might end up with the cretinous dribblings of Clive Tyldesley and Andy Townsend, with their contractual obligation to mention ‘that wonderful night in Barcelona’ six times in every commentary – more if Manchester United are actually involved.

  33. burnsey

    March 7, 2017 at 8:55 pm

    Watching the game, it was obvious they were in the studio. To each his own, but I’m surprised the Gaffer thinks these are accomplished, professional announcers. Holden’s voice is grating. He epitomizes everything Fox stands for. Bring in Caitlyn Jenner!

  34. Darren

    March 7, 2017 at 8:47 pm

    Neither of these goons should be providing commentary for football period.

    • Fulhamish

      March 8, 2017 at 11:47 am

      That isn’t the point and your Euro accent elitistism is silly.

  35. No One

    March 7, 2017 at 8:33 pm

    John Strong has the incredibly annoying voice of someone who commentates for baseball games. It’s like nails against a chalkboard for me. I’d love to know why American commentators aren’t allowed to sound like actual humans.

  36. No One

    March 7, 2017 at 8:27 pm

    We should be able to choose an audio stream in which there’s no commentary at all. I prefer to listen to the game by itself without having to listen to two cringey idiots.

    • CTBlues

      March 8, 2017 at 12:34 pm

      I think they do that sometimes with the Fox Sports Go app, but I’m not positive.

  37. 813guy

    March 7, 2017 at 8:20 pm

    I love you gus for pointing this stuff out, not sarcasm either. Fox Soccer is a disgrace, hopefully they lose the FA cup.

    • Michael

      April 20, 2017 at 1:21 pm

      Why do we have to listen to American commentators for a European game??? Would fox allow brits to be the main commentators for the super bowl or world series? They sound ridiculous. Fox needs to stick with what they do best, sticking to white rascist sexist political pundits.

      • NaBUru38

        April 20, 2017 at 3:29 pm

        In Latin America, European sports have Latin American announcers. It would be very odd to have English, Italian or even Spanish announcers.

      • Chet Ross

        July 11, 2018 at 8:18 pm

        I am forced to watch the game with no sound. These guys are just awful They do not call the game but instead keep trying to barrage us with meaningless statistics and attempt to feed us information to make us think an already important match is important. Take a lesson from the European announcers: call the game, don’t be a coach or statistician and allow for silence — it’s ok not to talk constantly. Send these guys to ESPN where the other horrible announcers reside.

  38. Bill

    March 7, 2017 at 7:55 pm

    But at one point, Strong did mention that there was someone on the field and he referred to “the world feed.”

    • DillyDing

      March 7, 2017 at 9:10 pm

      Alro and co are on site and yet we still see the world feed. Merely mentioning it doesn’t change the issue at hand since it’s an accurate statement.

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