SBS and the World Cup

Les Murray (football, not poet) with Craig Foster (former footballer, not aquaculture specialist and CEO of Cleanseas Sustainable Seafood)

Les Murray (football broadcaster, not poet) with Craig Foster (former footballer, not aquaculture specialist and CEO of Cleanseas Sustainable Seafood)

SBS has been Australia’s World Cup Finals broadcaster since Italia 90, when SBS sensationally won the rights ahead of the ABC. (Why do we say “the ABC” but not “the SBS”? Ponder that one.) In 2014, SBS will broadcast every World Cup match live.

Les Murray has been a mainstay of SBS’s coverage and will be suiting up for his seventh World Cup this year. He will be joined by former Sunshine George Cross player Craig Foster, and together they will present nightly match highlights and analysis. (No word at this stage if the “Panel of Captains” will make an appearance.)

SBS Head of Sport Ken Shipp spoke exclusively with Thin White Line about SBS’s coverage of the 2014 World Cup.

David Basheer will be our main guy calling all the Socceroo games. He’ll be joined by Craig Foster. They’ll be at the venues calling the games. Martin Tyler will be there exclusively for SBS. Martin will do the England games along with some of the high profile games, including the final.”

Of course, if Australia makes the final, then…oh never mind.

Most matches will be played at some ungodly hour, as is the tradition with the World Cup. SBS will be offering live streaming of all 64 games via the SBS website. At the last World Cup, SBS offered streaming just for Socceroos games.

“We think that most people will find themselves in front of a TV for those late games, so a lot of the streaming will be on demand. I think it will be the biggest online traffic we’ve ever offered. Everything we do will be streamed online or available on demand.”

Some of you will have fond memories of Les’s “Postcards”-style tourist reports and cultural musings from previous World Cups. This year Les will be spared the trouble of having to perform in-depth research on local food and folk traditions, because Joining Les and Foz on the panel will be Fernanda de Paula. “Fernanda will bring some cultural exposure to our coverage,” says Ken, “At SBS we provide some of the cultural aspects of the event, not just the pure football.”

The SBS team will be broadcasting from Rio de Janeiro, a seaside town with lovely beaches, largely completed stadiums and occasional civil unrest over bus ticket prices. It’s a bit pricey putting up the whole SBS team in Rio, surely in this age of cost-cutting and efficiencies there were other less salubrious options available?

“We did check out Salvador!” Ken says. “I did send the crew a year-and-a-half ago, because it has that Portuguese architecture, but in the end we decided on Rio because we wanted a view that cried out Brazil.” Apparently a massive photo of Sérgio Mendes and Brasil 66 (or Brasil 77, for that matter) in the background wouldn’t be enough.

For those of you who like to listen to the game in a language other than English, SBS Radio will be offering commentary in 13 languages.

But the question all Australian football fans want answered is this: Will we ever see Damien Lovelock on SBS again?

“Never say never! I don’t see why not.”

Damien, we have Ken’s number. Get in contact with us before he changes it.