Cleatus is going to Russia and Qatar. Sports Business Journal and SI.com are reporting that FOX has outbid ESPN and NBC for the U.S. based English language rights for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. FOX reportedly offered four to five times ESPN’s $100 million bid for the last cycle. The fallout for soccer in this country could be massive.
Soccer has become vastly more visible in the United States the past few years. This is indisputably the result of ESPN’s active promotion of the sport. The network forced staff to treat highlights professionally, brought in talented announcers such as Ian Darke, invested in the USMNT and club leagues and inserted the sport into the national sports discussion it dictates. The World Cup became a major television event as a consequence. The Gold Cup drew ratings on par with the Stanley Cup Final.