The 100th year of the Copa America will see the South American soccer championship held in the United States for the first time and feature six CONCACAF teams in addition to the 10 from South America, and Fox Sports is planning to cover the event in a big way. Fox announced its coverage plans for the tournament Tuesday, and it’s notable how much they’re trying to channel last year’s Women’s World Cup success. Here are some of the key details:
FOX Sports unveils a marquee lineup featuring more than 15 of the nation’s top soccer voices for the network’s unprecedented coverage of the historic 2016 COPA AMERICA CENTENARIO: The Championship of the Americas, the most highly-anticipated soccer event of the year. The group of elite play-by-play announcers, game analysts and studio commentators assembled has more than 30 years combined broadcast and on-field international soccer experience. The announcement was made today by David Neal, FIFA World Cup Executive Producer, FOX Sports.
“COPA AMERICA CENTENARIO promises to be one of the year’s most memorable events in soccer, and we’ve assembled a truly world-class team of commentators to accompany our viewers through this historic tournament,” said Neal.
Following last year’s critically-acclaimed coverage of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015™, FOX Sports once again assembles team of top-tier soccer experts for this summer’s COPA AMERICA CENTENARIO, which is being contested in the United States for the first time in its 100-year history. FOX Sports’ loaded lineup comprises five broadcast teams plus studio coverage originating from the FOX Broadcast Center in Los Angeles.
The tournament kicks off Friday, June 3, from Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., as the United States faces Colombia. Play-by-play announcer John Strong calls the action with analyst Brad Friedel and reporter Kyndra De St. Aubin, while Rob Stone hosts pre-match, halftime and post-match commentary alongside Alexi Lalas, Fernando Fiore, Herculez Gomez, Eric Wynalda and Aly Wagner throughout the tournament. Fiore handles a host of duties during the event including nine special editions of COPA TONIGHT, the hour-long tournament-themed news and commentary program, during which he is joined by Lalas and Wagner.
“Most highly-anticipated” may be a matter of opinion, considering that this year’s also featuring Euro 2016 (which ESPN announced its own coverage plans for Tuesday), but it’s clear that Fox believes this event will draw a substantial audience given the resources they’re putting into it. Five separate broadcast teams is no joke (although it’s really more four teams, as there are some crossovers), and all 32 matches will be televised, with 21 on FS1, four on Fox, four (group-stage games) on FS2 and three (two quarterfinals and the third-place match) on FX. They have a lot of returning faces from their successful Women’s World Cup coverage, too, including Strong, Stone, Lalas, Wynalda, De St. Aubin, Wagner, J.P. Dellacamera and Justin Kutcher.
There are some notable omissions who played key roles in the Women’s World Cup and in Fox’s Gold Cup coverage, though, perhaps most significantly coast-to-coast travelling reporter Julie Stewart-Binks and studio analyst/reporter/SI writer Grant Wahl. (Update: Fox says Wahl will in fact be featured as reporter-at-large, and was only omitted from the initial release thanks to an editing error. Dr. Joe Machnik will return as rules analyst as well.) Instead, reporting will be handled by De St. Aubin, Jenny Taft and Francisco X. Rivera. The booth pairings have also changed a bit from last summer, with Strong now in the lead play-by-play role instead of Dellacamera, who’s now on the second team with former USMNT player Stuart Holden. The other pairings are Kutcher and Cobi Jones, Mark Followill and Jones, and Followill and Herculez Gomez.
The Copa America Centenario starts June 3 and runs through June 26. All matches will be streamed on Fox Sports Go and Fox Soccer 2 Go as well as aired on Fox’s networks.