Fox to keep away from World Cup off-field controversy in Qatar


NEW YORK (AP) — Fox plans to keep away from protection of Qatar’s controversial remedy of migrant staff throughout World Cup broadcasts, a lot because it didn’t handle criticism of Russia’s authorities through the 2018 match.

“Our stance is if it affects what happens on the field of play, we will cover it and cover it fully,” David Neal, govt producer of Fox’s World Cup protection, mentioned Thursday. “But if it does not, if it is ancillary to the story of the tournament, there are plenty of other entities and outlets out there that are going to cover that. We firmly believe the viewers come to us to see what happens on the field, on the pitch.”

Neal spoke at an occasion to debut pictures of the community’s set in Doha manufactured from LED screens, the hub of its protection of a match that runs from Nov. 20 to Dec. 18.

“This set, in typical subtle Fox fashion,” he mentioned, “I think it will be visible from Mars,”

Qatar has been criticized over its remedy of the employees who constructed the World Cup venues. Paris’ metropolis authorities won’t broadcast World Cup matches on large screens in public fan zones amid considerations over rights violations of migrant staff and the environmental influence of the match in Qatar.

Neal mentioned he didn’t remorse bypassing protection of points comparable to racism and sexism in Russia 4 years in the past.

“I think the quizzical thing about what’s happened with Russia is that they took all that international goodwill that they had correctly earned as a really great host of the World Cup, and that’s now gone,” Neal mentioned.

Fox took over from ESPN because the FIFA’s U.S. English-language World Cup broadcaster beginning with the 2015 girls’s match and has rights by means of the 2026 males’s match within the United States, Mexico and Canada. It will televise 34 of 64 matches this yr on the primary Fox community and the rest on its FS1 cable community.

U.S. Spanish-language tv rights are held by NBCUniversal’s Telemundo.

Fox may have commentators name all matches from stadiums in Qatar, the place the eight venues are inside 35 miles (55 kilometers) of Doha. Four years in the past, the 12 venues had been unfold round Russia and Fox known as 33 matches onsite, together with all however one through the knockout rounds.

John Strong and Stu Holden, the lead announce group, attended the occasion together with host Rob Stone, analysts Alexi Lalas and Maurice Edu, and reporter Jenny Taft.

With the match shifted from its conventional June/July time slot due to Qatar’s summer time warmth, video games will happen through the NFL and faculty soccer seasons. Fox debuted a “Superfan Santa” commercial final weekend tying soccer to Santa Claus.

“On Thanksgiving Day, yes, it’s great to be around family. It’s better to be around the television with your family so you don’t have to talk to them all the time,” Stone mentioned. “So Thanksgiving Day, it is Luis Suárez. It is Cristiano Ronaldo. It is Neymar. It is Cowboys-Giants. That’s a lot of TV. That’s a lot of time you don’t have to talk to the in-laws.”

Some weekend video games will overlap soccer protection on Fox and different networks.

“When we first saw the tournament being moved to November/December, we, like a lot of people said, oh, boy, that’s tough. It’s against football,” Neal mentioned. “We came to realize that it’s an advantage. The simple fact is there’s more eyeballs available in November and December than there is in the summer. There’s more people available to television who are able to tune in, and instead of having to attract people in from the beach to watch what we’re doing, they’re already there.”

The U.S. is again within the World Cup after a four-year absence.

“One of our proudest moments as an entity, certainly as a World Cup rights holder, was the month worth of storytelling that we did in Russia, and it was about that 33rd character: 32 teams and the host country,” Neal mentioned. “This time around we got a huge advantage over that because we got the United States there. The United States team I think we all believe has a legitimate chance of getting out of the group stage.”


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