I’m not a big soccer guy, but Fox Sports trying to make Gus Johnson its lead soccer announcer always seemed like a bad idea. The sports’ fans are a highly discerning bunch. With Fox Sports slated to do the Women’s World Cup next year and the World Cup in 2018, not to mention many important matches in between, Johnson was set up to vilified as the lead voice.
Now it won’t happen. Johnson said the demands of getting up to speed were taking a toll on him from a personal standpoint. From Richard Deitsch at SI.com.
Depending on your soccer broadcasting orthodoxy, the following news will be received as a cause for celebration or bitter disappointment:
Gus Johnson has stepped down as Fox’s No. 1 soccer broadcaster.
Johnson told Sports Illustrated on Sunday that he called Fox Sports president Eric Shanks last week and explained that with a full schedule of college football and college basketball, he could not give soccer the attention it deserved and that viewers demanded of a lead broadcaster. Shanks agreed to pull Johnson off the assignment.
“I think that it was a mutual decision, but maybe I was the guy who came to it first,” Johnson said.
Later Deitsch wrote:
Asked by SI if the external criticism of Johnson’s soccer work impacted his decision, (Fox Sports president Eric Shanks) said no, but added, “I am not going to lie and say we were unaware of it. We make decisions based on how we feel, and in this case, in consultation with Gus.”
As for the replacement:
Shanks said Fox has a relationship with the acclaimed British soccer broadcaster Martin Tyler, so look to see if that connection increases over the next year.
“I would not say we are running around here like the sky is falling and we need to fill this position tomorrow,” Shanks said. “We believe Fox has some work to do and we will look at every possible candidate that is out there.”