There’s nothing wrong with having some fun on the set. But when the joke is on FOX Sports, should we be surprised? For more than a decade, FOX Sports have been the butt of jokes among soccer fans in the United States. So with in mind, we look at the top six funniest mistakes of FOX’s World Cup coverage they’ve made on live television so far.

After all, with FOX’s World Cup coverage, sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying.

Top 6 funniest mistakes of FOX’s World Cup

1. FOX screws up World Cup bracket live on television

After the final match of the World Cup group stage, we finally knew all 16 teams that had qualified for the knockout round. So, what did FOX Sports do? Instead of showing the correct lineup of games for the Round of 16, they managed to screw it up live on TV (see screengrab below). Their bracket showed Spain facing Croatia, and Morocco against Japan.

Anyone following the World Cup knows that it should have been Spain against Morocco and Croatia against Japan.

2. FOX commentators can’t keep score

When you have a Group of Death with all of the games coming down to the final 90 minutes to determine who advances, you do your homework beforehand. As a commentator and/or analyst, you figure out what’s needed for each team to advance to the next round.

So in the game between Japan and Spain that was commentated by FOX Sports’ Jacqui Oatley and Warren Barton, the unbelievable happened. They were so bad in understanding what was happening that they said many times during the commentary that Spain would get knocked out if they lost and if Germany won.

In fact, Spain did lose (2-1 to Japan) and Germany did win (4-2 against Costa Rica). Yet, both Spain and Japan advanced.

Barton, in particular, was saying during the broadcast that Spain needed an equalizer in order to advance, which was completely erroneous. Perhaps Barton didn’t do well in mathematics in school, but this was a laughable, schoolboy error by Barton and Jacqui Oatley in a game with major implications.

And this is from the same FOX pundit who doesn’t mention player names unless it’s someone famous or an anglicized name.

3. Gag order silences FOX’s over-talkative commentator

Before the World Cup began, FOX’s lead producer for its World Cup coverage promised that “If it affects what happens on the field of play, we will cover it and cover it fully.” This was in response to whether FOX Sports would discuss any of the human rights abuses and lack of freedoms in host country Qatar.

So when a major incident happening unexpectedly during the Portugal-Uruguay game, FOX’s policy was put to the test. A pitch invader ran on to the field, stopped play and it was plainly evident that he was carrying a large Pride flag. On the front of his shirt were the words “Save Ukraine.” On the back, his T-shirt proclaimed “Respect for Iranian woman.”

So given FOX’s promise that they would cover what happens on the field fully, what did they do? The always over-talkative duo of FOX Sports lead commentator John Strong and analyst Stu Holden were at a loss for words. All he could muster was “The play will be stopped here because someone who has come onto the field.”

And that was followed by 50 seconds of stone cold silence.

The funny thing is that the game was also simulcast on SiriusXM where the satellite radio firm uses the FOX Sports audio feed. They must have been wondering why there was a rare silence.

4. FOX’s dumbing down of soccer coverage continues

If you thought that instance of FOX censoring itself from covering the World Cup was laughable, get a load of this. Consider these two examples of FOX Sports completely ignoring major World Cup talking points on their television coverage:

  1. The OneLove armband controversy. Germany’s team photo pre-match with all of their players covering their mouths as a protest against FIFA trying to silence soccer players is arguably the most iconic image of the World Cup. Except that FOX Sports’ live television coverage didn’t show it. And they never mentioned it or showed the image during its TV broadcasts. In fact, even before the Germany-Japan game kicked off, the OneLove armband controversy was the biggest story in the World Cup. Yet FOX Sports continued to completely ignore the topic on television.
  2. Iran flag controversy. Two days prior to the USA versus Iran game, the biggest topic about the US national team was the controversy coming out of the USMNT social media account. Whether it was done accidentally or on purpose, US Soccer’s decision to remove the islamic republic symbol from the images of the Iran flag was political dynamite. So how did US broadcaster FOX Sports cover the story? They completely ignored it. And it’s not like FOX Sports to not talk about any topic involving the US Men’s National Team, right?

5. FOX Sports can’t pronounce names of world-famous soccer stars

When your “talent” has issues pronouncing world-class soccer players such as Manuel Neuer and Thomas Müller, as well as Serge Gnabry, you know you have problems. Host Jenny Taft and pundit Kelly Smith stumbled over the names of the German stars shortly before kickoff against Japan. What makes matters worse is that Smith did the same thing during FOX’s coverage of World Cup 2018.

It’s another example of the funniest mistakes of FOX’s World Cup. It shows a lack of preparation. How much worse can they get?

6. FOX’s bait-and-switch over World Cup start times

If you’re like us who have spoken to many casual sports fans during the World Cup, one the most common pieces of feedback we’ve heard about FOX’s World Cup coverage is that they’re tricking viewers into tuning in an hour before kickoff time to watch the game.

Even before the World Cup, FOX Sports have been known for advertising games with the start of their pre-match coverage instead of the kickoff time like other nations do it. It’s a bait and switch tactic by FOX Sports to “force” people to watch their pre-match coverage.

Anyone who has watched this World Cup on FOX knows that they constantly promote upcoming coverage. However, as New York Post reporter Andrew Marchand eloquently put it:

“What time do you want to meet for lunch? Be there at 1PM, but I’m not showing up until 2PM to eat.

“This is how FOX Sports dishonestly promotes the World Cup start times. It is disrespectful, though, not unexpected.

“…Eight years in the waiting United States match against Wales, FOX’s graphics kept saying that ‘coverage begins at 1.’

“One problem? Kickoff was at 2.”

Final thoughts

Based on the above errors, it’s not surprising for World Cup 2022, many soccer fans have switched to watching World Cup games on Telemundo and Peacock. Others have found alternate means.

After all, FOX Sports have to remember that people are tuning in to watch the World Cup, not FOX. What FOX does offer is accessibility of the games, a studio set that looks like a million of dollars, and coverage that’s in the English language. They are the path of least resistance for people who don’t know any better.

Watch enough of FOX and you’ll quickly see that they try to make it all about them. Whether it’s the silly suits, bro culture on display, or posing in front of the cameras, this has devolved into some of the worst World Cup coverage we have ever seen on these shores. Yes, there has been some good coverage on FOX.

However, the funny thing about FOX is that they believe their own hype. And that’s perhaps the funniest thing about all of their World Cup coverage.

Photo credit: IMAGO / ANP

Guide to World Cup 2022

Here are some resources to help you get the most out of the biggest event in soccer!
TV Schedule: All the info on where and when to watch every game
The Groups: We breakdown each group and all the teams
The Kits: Check out what every team will be wearing on the field this fall
Predictor: Play out every scenario with our World Cup Predictor
World Cup Bracket: Map out the entire tournament, from the groups to the final