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“Fox Sports’ US World Cup Coverage Is An Unmissable Abomination”

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 06, 2022

There are plenty of problematic things about this year’s World Cup, starting with the human rights situation in the host country, but for US viewers, Fox Sports’ coverage is really stinking up the joint. Aaron Timms burns them down in The Guardian:

In these circumstances you might expect Fox’s coverage of the matches, untroubled by politics, to be razor-sharp. You would be mistaken. From its Orientalist redoubt on the Doha Corniche (Arabesque motifs, casino lighting, no actual Arabs unless they’re from the Qatari tourism agency), the Fox team has set about its task with vigor: to beam all the tournament matches into the living rooms of America while being maximally patronizing to the country’s soccer fans. In those rare moments when Fox is not jamming a brand down our throats (“Here’s the player to watch segment, presented by Coca-Cola”, “Your first-half moment, sponsored by Verizon”, “Our player spotlight is hosted by the Volkswagen ID.4”), the network’s hosts, analysts, and match commentators seem determined to mansplain the sport as if we, the soccer-watching public of the United States, have spent the past four decades with our heads in the desert sands surrounding Lusail Iconic Stadium.

Insults to our collective intelligence have come from all angles: the constant, tedious analogies to American sports (stepovers and feints described as “dekes” and “hesis”, corners constantly compared to “pick and rolls”); the neverending quest to “contextualize” the world game by comparing whole countries to American states (“Qatar is the size of Connecticut,” we were told repeatedly on the opening day); the network’s embrace and promotion of the interminable “it’s called soccer” cause (who cares?); the strange extended segment in the run-up to USA v England about how much Harry Kane likes American football (ditto); the employment of Piers Morgan as a special guest pundit (no thanks).

The “it’s called soccer, no it’s football” thing is beyond stupid — it’s the sort of debate that 4th graders have on the playground. I watched the Netherlands vs. USA match the other day with my friend David and it was so bad we switched the channel to Telemundo even though neither of us speaks Spanish — and you know what, it was better because you could just enjoy the game. (Also, my pet peeve about the coverage: when showing the starting lineups and formations, they do not list the possible subs. The bench players matter, especially on these deep international teams! They come on late in games and score winning goals! Tell us who these people are!)