Report: Fox Sports' Nathanson leaving after 18 years

Behind the scenes, David Nathanson has been one of the most powerful people in American soccer, first heading Fox Soccer and then securing World Cup rights for Fox Sports. But after 18 years, Sports Business Journal reported, he is leaving Fox Sports, where he has been head of business operations.

Sports Business Journal's John Ourand reported that Nathanson was offered a contract to stay for three more years but will pursue other opportunities in the media business.

The agreement with FIFA for English-language rights was a coup for Fox Sports, capturing the rights from ESPN and covering the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. The agreement, which also covers the Women's World Cup and other FIFA events, was extended to include the 2026 World Cup after FIFA switched the dates for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar from the summer to late fall.

Fox Sports became an MLS rights-holder in 2015 under an eight-year agreement that also includes ESPN and Univision as national broadcasters. Fox Sports also gained the rights to the Bundesliga but lost EPL rights (to NBC Sports) and UEFA Champions League rights (to Turner Sports beginning next season).

The SBJ report came the same day that Jonathan Tannenwald of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Jonty Whitehead, the executive producer of soccer for Fox Sports, is leaving Fox Sports to return to his native England. He will serve as a consultant to Fox Sports.

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