The FIFA World Cup is an unmissable event. However, if you’re watching it in the United States, your experience of the world’s most popular sporting competition might be slightly different than what others around the globe are enjoying.
That’s because Fox Sports will broadcast all of the matches for American viewers, and their coverage leaves much to be desired.
To begin with, there will be nonstop commercials throughout every match. This is typical for Fox Sports broadcasts but can make following the game difficult since you’re constantly interrupted.
Additionally, due to their desire to show as many college football games as possible during the tournament, Fox often switches between channels, leading to confusion for those trying to keep track of what’s going on.
And then there are segments like Alexi Lalas’ motivational speeches or Clint Dempsey reading children’s stories that have nothing whatsoever to do with soccer but were added to create excitement around a team that no one cares about.
Finally, while other countries enjoy month-long celebrations of this global event, Americans are subjected to Lando (a festival that nobody knows about).
Although Fox Sports’ coverage of this tournament has been largely negative, it has been mildly encouraging at a time when the United States men’s national team is clicking on the pitch, and the country finally has a generation of footballers with the technical quality to rival the world’s best.
Fox’s team is like a farmers’ league XI that walks long and hopes for the best, whereas the USMNT has evolved into a cosmopolitan ensemble of feather-fine abilities.
Fox Sports has long been a target of criticism, particularly regarding their coverage of the World Cup. In 2014, they provided what has widely been referred to as the “dumbumvirate debacle”, with misinformed and often cringe-worthy analysis coming from on-air personalities like Squeaky Stuey Holden and Alexi Lalas.
Fortunately, four years later, Fox is back -and worse than ever. While other networks offer insightful commentary and reporting from Russia 2018, Fox’s team continues to bungle even the simplest tasks (look at Rob Stone’s 18th birthday party celebration stunt).
There is certainly no shortage of material to work with when discussing the coverage of the World Cup by Fox Sports. Errors and gaffes have besieged the network since the tournament kicked off, starting with lead announcer Rob Stone calling Doha – the capital of Qatar, which is hosting this year’s World Cup – “Dosa” instead.
This error was compounded over the next few days as Stone vanished from Fox Soccer’s broadcasts for unclear reasons, leaving his colleagues to stumble through awkward on-air moments without him.
Since Sepp Blatter plucked Qatar’s name from the envelope in 2010, this tournament has been marred by off-field drama, yet watching Fox would have you believe otherwise. The BBC chose to run a lengthy story on Qatari human rights abuses over airing the opening ceremony, which was reduced to an online-only transmission.
Fox went the opposite, airing the whole ceremony and following up with “a look at exploring Qatar, sponsored by the Qatar Foundation”. The myriad issues with this tournament, including its history of obscene commercialization and deaths, have been covered over by Fox.
This isn’t the first time a group of Americans has carelessly entered a Middle Eastern nation without thoroughly informing itself of the situation.
The connections between American military adventurism and global sports coverage may be tenuous. Still, the Fox team has made every effort to highlight them by bringing the Iraq 2003 can-do attitude to its coverage of Qatar 2022.
There has been zero evidence of the deep ambivalence that many football fans, especially in the United States, feel about this event. Amid Fox’s constant on-air inferno of jingoism and untroubled elevation, nuance, political context, and perspective on a sporting ambition based on exploitation and influence peddling have been lost.
Rob Stone and the rest of the squad have been amazing throughout the World Cup, even by their lofty standards. They’ve been stumbling and chuntering around their Doha outpost like a bunch of Bush administration diplomats.
Please spare a moment to absorb the staggering breadth of Fox’s ineptitude in Qatar. In the buildup to the group stage match between Brazil and Serbia, Rob Stone mentioned the Brazilians’ five World Cup victories, arguably the most well-known statistic from the tournament.
This prompted a stunned Dempsey to remark, “Wow, you really did your research!” Commentator JP Dellacamera, speaking during France’s game against Denmark, referred to Kylian Mbappe as “a kid who’s 23 and already the whole world is talking about him.” an assessment whose awed “already” revealed that JP has watched almost no football over the past five years.
Donovan began the tournament by pronouncing Iran’s name as “Eye-ran,” they heard an Iranian journalist correct Tyler Adams for mispronouncing Iran’s name, then continued to use the incorrect pronunciation.
The fact that they mispronounce foreign names has even become a regular joke on Fox’s Corniche set (whether they be stadiums, players, or whatever else).
When asked for his thoughts before the big game between the United States and England, Lalas roared, “I don’t know how they say it in the King’s English but does a seero my friends to the USA,” usefully illustrating that he is unable to utter “dos a cero” in the King’s Spanish.
The World Cup is a great opportunity to watch some of the best players in the world compete on the biggest stage. But it’s also a chance to see Fox Sports’ tournament coverage, which is so bad that it has become unmissable.
A chance to see Mbappe sprint down the left wing or Neymar wow us with his ball-handling prowess is also presented. But for many of us, just as intriguing as the action on the field is Fox’s abomination of commentary known as soccer broadcasting.