You have to imagine that in the headquarters of ESPN, the writing is on the wall as they see their World Cup and US Soccer grip sliding away. Listen, I think that ESPN has done a good job with the 2010 World Cup, but with the following news coming out of US Soccer:
U.S. BID TO HOST FIFA WORLD CUPTM IN 2018 OR 2022 ANNOUNCES
FOX SOCCER CHANNEL AS OFFICIAL PARTNER
NEW YORK (June 28, 2010) - The USA Bid Committee today announced Fox Soccer Channel as an official partner in support of the organization's efforts to bring the FIFA World CupTM to the United States in 2018 or 2022.
"The challenge and privilege of hosting a FIFA World Cup is enormous, as we are seeing here in South Africa," said Sunil Gulati, Chairman of the USA Bid Committee and President of U.S. Soccer. "The same can be said for the bidding process. Corporate support is an important component to a successful bid, and now we're very fortunate to count Fox Soccer Channel as a friend and official partner of our endeavor to bring the FIFA World Cup to the United States in 2018 or 2022."
Fox Soccer Channel and its associated platforms, Fox Soccer Plus and Foxsoccer.com, will begin a series of corporate sponsorship announcements for the U.S. bid in the coming weeks. Fox Soccer Channel is an American multi-platform sports network showcasing the most comprehensive world-class soccer programming in the United States throughout the year. Fox Soccer Channel programming is dedicated to global soccer, and holds exclusive rights to key properties such as UEFA Champions League, England's Barclays Premier League, Italy's Serie A, the CONCACAF Champions League and FIFA Club World Cup. It also carries a full slate of Major League Soccer, Women's Professional Soccer, NCAA Division I men's and women's soccer matches in the United States and is the Official Broadcast Partner of United States Youth Soccer Association.
"As the leading source for soccer programming and information in the United States, Fox Soccer Channel, Fox Soccer Plus and Foxsoccer.com is proud to join forces with the USA Bid Committee as a corporate sponsor to bring the most important event in soccer to the United States," said David Nathanson, General Manager of Fox Soccer Channel. "We are committed to using all of our resources to be a driving force behind support for the USA Bid."
You have to believe this is an early commitment by FSC and Fox in general to gain a much closer relationship with US Soccer, I also have to believe this might just be the wakeup call for ESPN that a commitment to soccer is more than jumping on the bandwagon every 4 years. I said before that I thought that ESPN pushing MLS to have midweek matches (which hurt the local teams) was wrong, their only wanting to show a limited number of teams (LA, Seattle, DC, and now Philly) in a majority of their broadcasts is wrong. Now ESPN sit on the edge of losing the biggest soccer show on the planet to Fox.
I say this is a great move by US Soccer and by Fox, I still hold out hope that the US could host in 2018 but it is more and more likely that it would be 2022 and as you will here in the upcoming day, that 2022 should be a real focal point for soccer in the United States.
OFF MY SOAPBOX