Inter Milan vs. Bayern Munich – May 22nd in Madrid, Spain. Mark your calendars for that one because it’s a very special day. For the first time ever, the UEFA Champions League Final will be aired live on network TV. Fox Sports has the rights, and for the last few weeks on FSN and the Fox Soccer Channel they have used the Sky Sports commentary teams to complement the studio hosts of Eric Wynalda, Bobby McMahon, and Warren Barton.
For the final, and the final only, Fox has put up possibly the worst trio of hosts to ever come up on a soccer broadcast. Brace yourselves, because they’ve kept Wynalda, added Bruce Arena, and Curt Menefee!
This season’s UEFA Champions League Final is being held on a Saturday for the first time in its history, with a 2:30 PM ET FOX on-air time. The event is FOX Sports’ first-ever soccer broadcast and joins a select few major international soccer championships ever to receive broadcast television exposure in the U.S.
The internationally-respected announcing duo of Martin Tyler (play-by-play) and Andy Gray (expert analyst) call the action from Madrid’s Santiago Bernabéu Stadium. In addition to their work on UEFA Champions League telecasts, Tyler and Gray team for Sky Sports’ coverage of the Barclays Premier League in the United Kingdom.
Curt Menefee, a long-time aficionado of international soccer who since 2006 has co-hosted FOX NFL SUNDAY, anchors the network’s coverage from Madrid beginning with a live 15-minute pregame show.
He is joined by analysts Bruce Arena – head coach of Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles Galaxy and former head coach of the United States Men’s National Team – and Eric Wynalda, a member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame and the second-leading goal scorer in U.S. history.
Wynalda retired in 2001 following a lengthy professional career that included time with clubs in Germany, Mexico and the U.S., and currently works as a commentator on several Fox Soccer Channel programs. The trio also provides halftime and postgame coverage.
Menefee, Arena and Wynalda set the stage for a battle between two iconic European clubs who have combined to win 38 titles in their respective domestic leagues.
Wow. This is unprecedented levels of bad. Menefee according to that press release is a soccer aficionado, but I’ll take that with a grain of salt. Wynalda is terrible and Bruce Arena is a horrific public speaker. He’s been used as a studio pundit and TV analyst before and he was a train wreck. Why pick three American guys for Europe’s biggest competition? What was wrong with Bobby McMahon and the (admittedly dull) Warren Barton that they couldn’t just use them for the final as well? Fox better not think that using “familiar” guys is the way to attract the casual viewer to this game, because they didn’t exactly pick the three greatest guys in the world.
I’ll give Menefee the benefit of the doubt for now because he did do NFL Europe commentary so hopefully he picked up soccer knowledge with all of his time spent in England, Germany, and The Netherlands.
All that’s missing is Terry Bradshaw rambling through the highlights and butchering names and scores.
This could be a painful broadcast to watch. Luckily Martin Tyler and Andy Gray will save the day.