Gus Johnson Set to Call World Cup

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Gus Johnson

Fox doesn’t take over U.S. broadcast rights of the World Cup soccer tournament for another five years, which is the World Cup after next. But the network already has a plan for the announcer’s booth in the tournament: Gus Johnson.

Sports Illustrated media reporter Richard Deitsch reported on Tuesday that Johnson, a former CBS announcer known for his excitable style and dramatic calls of big moments, is in the midst of a long grooming process with an eye towards taking over the play-the-play job for the 2018 World Cup.

Johnson, whose experience is mostly with college basketball and the NFL, was approached shortly after joining Fox in 2011 about becoming the World Cup play-by-play announcer when Fox takes over the rights. Since then, Johnson has become immersed in soccer by calling games of the MLS club the San Jose Earthquakes, and will announce an upcoming Champions League match between Manchester United and Real Madrid.

Here are some Gus highlights:

ESPN, which has held the World Cup rights for years and will broadcast the 2014 tournament, has been heavily criticized in the past for sticking announcers without a significant soccer background in the chair for the event.

Johnson’s style seems especially suited to the World Cup and to soccer, when a late goal and an excitable announcer are often an irresistible combination. Like this moment by Sky Sports’ Martin Tyler last spring:

There are a lot of bad ideas in the way the networks present sports, as the blackout debacle on Sunday made very clear. But the idea of having Gus Johnson call the World Cup- and giving him more than five years to prepare- is the best one they’ve had in awhile.

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