Fox Sports focuses on football World Cup coverage and ignores Qatar’s human rights abuses


It should come as no surprise that Fox Sports will not address the moral dilemma of selecting Qatar to host during the network’s coverage.

Christian Pulisic (left) and the rest of the US team will open Monday’s World Cup game against Wales. PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES

It should come as no surprise that Fox Sports, the rights holder of the World Cup, intends to shy away from any journalistic integrity and will not address the moral dilemma of selecting Qatar to host during the network’s coverage of the tournament. Honestly, the only surprise is that anyone believes Fox’s parent company, which has had a lot of practice over the past few years at ignoring the truth for ratings and profit, still has any journalistic integrity.

Fox Sports Executive Producer David Neal confirms that Qatar’s long list of human rights abuses, including the criminalization of homosexuality, the treatment of women as subservient to men and the reported 6,500 deaths of migrant workers since the World Cup was awarded 12 years ago, are not mentioned in its broadcasts.

“We truly believe that because of the World Cup, viewers will come to Fox Sports to see the World Cup,” Neal told the Washington Post, acknowledging that it’s an editorial decision.

In other words, we shut up while they dribble.

The more appropriate approach would be to emulate how NBC Sports covered China’s human rights abuses during its coverage of the Beijing Winter Olympics earlier this year. host Mike Tiricalong with Savannah Guthrie, spoke at length during the opening ceremony with experts on China, who explained the country’s handling of the Uyghur Muslim minority and other issues. NBC’s outspokenness hasn’t hurt the Olympics. But Fox, who, according to The Post, has a big sponsorship from Qatar Airlines, is there to tell us what’s happening on the field, not what might have happened while his stadium was being built.

Stuart Holden (left) and John Strong will once again be Fox Sports' No. 1 TV tandem.
Stuart Holden (left) and John Strong will once again be Fox Sports’ No. 1 TV tandem. MATT SLOCUM/ASSOCIATED PRESS

The network sticks to esports, and here’s a truth: it has an excellent roster of broadcasters to help them get there.

John Stark and Stu Holden back as the leading tandem, like at the World Cup four years ago in Russia. At some point during the World Cup, they will play their 300th game together. Other pairings include JP Dellacamera and Cobi Jones, Derek Rae and Ali Wagner, Ian Darke and Landon Donovanand Jacqui Oatley and Warren Barton. Oatley is the first female play-by-play voice to announce men’s World Cup matches for a US network. All five broadcast teams will nominate games at the venue. Wonder what airline they flew there with.

Rob Stone and Kate Abdo are back as lead studio hosts, with Abdo handling overnight hosting. There are many New England connections among analysts, which include former Revolution players Alexi Lalas and Clint Dempsey and former patriot ChadJohnsona fútbol fan. Carli Lloyd, Moritz Ed, Eni Alukoand KellySmith also have prominent studio roles.

Coverage begins Sunday at 11am when Qatar takes on Ecuador on FS1. The US men play their first game on Monday against Wales at 2pm on Fox.

Holley makes a surprise appearance

Michael Holley was back on the radio with Toucher & Rich on Wednesday morning.
Michael Holley was back on the radio with Toucher & Rich on Wednesday morning. JAMISON WEXLER

It was a pleasant surprise to turn on and listen to “Toucher & Rich” in the car on Wednesday morning Michael Holle as a third vote. Holley has been busy since leaving WEEI in February 2018 — she works full-time at NBC Sports Boston and hosts “Brother From Another” with a longtime pal Michael Smith on Peacock and taught journalism at Boston University — but he hadn’t done radio until a week ago when a producer from Toucher & Rich got in touch. With the usual third voice Jon Wallach planned to call 20-25 Celtics games on Sports Hub when Sean Grande switches to television when Mike Gorman it’s over, cohost Rich Shertenlieb made a list of possible fillers, and Holley was at the top of his list. Regular appearances are not planned, but Holley fit in seamlessly. . . NESN says its household viewership for Bruins games in terms of impressions — or estimated viewers — is up 34 percent from last season. The most interesting detail of their data: Impressions are up 44 percent over the last year for women in the 25-54 age group. Much of the increase in viewership can be attributed to an appealing side playing a fun style under the new coach Jim Montgomery. I’d suggest that the Red Sox, the Bruins’ NESN neighbors, could learn from this – assemble a compelling, successful team and ratings and viewership will soar – but honestly, it’s something they already know and should strive for it. . . I will miss twitter should billionaire be buffoon Elon Musk’s Hubris breaks it down forever, and I’ll write more about what is – was? – so good when his chirping stops. A thought for now: Those scoop masters and information peddlers with massive followings such as Adam Scherter (9.9 million followers) and Adrian Wojnarowski (5.7 million), must be very nervous about the fate of Twitter. Their notoriety and salaries were boosted by their ability to feed information to Twitter even before they worked at ESPN.


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