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Three new voices join ESPN's World Cup play-by-play team
March 20th, 2014 6:37PM

TAGS:  soccer business, television, world cup 2014


[SOCCER ON THE AIR] Ian Darke, Adrian Healey and Derek Rae return as part of ESPN's team of play-by-play announcers for the World Cup, and they'll be joined by two other British announcers, veteran Jon Champion and Daniel Mann, currently with Sky Sports, and Salvadoran Fernando Palomo, who is play-by-play voice for the English-language Mexican national team matches on ESPN.

This will be the third World Cup for Healey with ESPN and second with Darke, who was named ESPN’s lead play-by-play commentator in January, and Rae, who was voice of ESPN when it held the UEFA Champions League rights.

Champion, 48, worked for ESPN UK until it lost its EPL rights and shut down last summer. He now works on the world feed used like NBC for some of its EPL games. The Scottish-born Mann, 33, does the Premier League, Champions League and World Cup qualifiers for Sky Sports.
Palomo, who came to the USA from El Salvador to attend Texas A&M, where he threw the javelin, has been host of Fuera de Juego, ESPN Deportes and ESPN International’s highest-rated soccer program since 2006. He is also a former anchor of SportsCenter on ESPN Deportes.

"The commentator team we have assembled for the 2014 FIFA World Cup has the strong potential to be even better than the celebrated team of 2010,” said Jed Drake, ESPN’s executive producer for its World Cup coverage, in a statement. “Individually and collectively, they rank among the top commentator teams on any event we have ever televised.”

This will be the last World Cup for ESPN before the broadcast rights move to Fox for the 2018 and 2022 finals.

  1. Ginger Peeler
    commented on: March 21, 2014 at 12:05 p.m.
    I keep hoping Ian Darke will retire or just go somewhere else. As a play by play announcer, he spends so much time gossiping about the players, other leagues, and which player's cousin has a hangnail, there's little time left for him to comment on the action taking place on the field. I have a small screen TV and cannot make out the numbers on the players' jerseys, so I have to rely on Darke's telling me which player has the ball, who he passes it to, etc. Of course, some players have very distinctive mannerisms, so I can pick them out. But I have to depend on Darke for letting me know what's happening. He fails miserably. I like the other English announcers okay...they may gossip a tad, but they keep me informed of the activity on the field. I believe it's NBCSN that has plain old american announcers...a pleasure to hear again. If we have to have Darke, why not have him just do the color commentator bit? That's what he's doing anyway. But, please, please, have somebody else do the play by play
  1. Kevin Leahy
    commented on: March 21, 2014 at 12:15 p.m.
    ESPN does not have a good history of marketing soccer. That includes the open hostility some of their anchors have shown toward our sport and the priority that the give it in all their broadcasting. All these British guys are getting on my nerves. What have they done since 1966 to be, the be all and end all. I'll just turn the volume to off!
  1. Glenn Maddock
    commented on: March 21, 2014 at 5:55 p.m.
    It's very sad that ESPN still feels the British and Spanish speaking announcers need to teach Americans about soccer. We have many great soccer announcers like JP Dellacamera. he should be doing these games first. Stop insulting us.
  1. Zoe Willet
    commented on: March 22, 2014 at 2:25 a.m.
    For the most part I agree that the Brits aren't the be-all and end-all of play by play (is England a favorite, even as a dark horse, at the World Cup?) I especially resent the ones with such heavy English/Irish/Scots accents that I miss a good part of their comments. However, I do like Darke! I've learned a few things about soccer by listening to him. We have some clunkers too, like the pedantic Dunseth and the total nincompoop Gus Johnson. I would like to see Christopher Sullivan, who I consider one of the finest, but he seems to have disappeared- pouf!
  1. Sam Aragon
    commented on: March 23, 2014 at 10:14 p.m.
    Honestly, who cares? Are they the best? If they are, they should be on. Fernando Palomo has done soccer for more time than Gus Johnson and Dave O'Brien put together. THEY are the ones that have ruined it for decent American announcers. You also need more Hispanic-Americans calling the game, they have more passion and knowledge for the game without a doubt.

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