Ian Darke will be the lead play-by-play commentator for ESPN during the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, it was announced today by Jed Drake, senior vice president and executive producer, ESPN Production. Darke, ESPN’s lead voice for international soccer since 2010, will call the Brazil vs. Croatia opening match on Thursday, June 12, in Sao Paulo, the final and other matches, including all U.S. Men’s National Team games in the quadrennial tournament (June 12 – July 13).
Following his critically-acclaimed work for ESPN during the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, Darke joined the company full-time and was named the lead English-language voice for soccer in September 2010, moving from London-based Sky Sports. Darke, who was one of the FIFA World Cup commentators for ESPN and ABC in the U.S. in 1994, has voiced some of the seminal moments in televised soccer in the U.S. during the past four years.
During the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup, Darke brilliantly captured the game-changing moment during the USA-Brazil quarterfinal match when U.S. forward Abby Wambach scored a miraculous header in the 122nd minute of play. He also provided commentary for the eventual USA vs. Japan final – the most-watched soccer match on ESPN, seen by an average of 13.5 million viewers.
In May 2012, Darke described the heart-throbbing final minutes of the 2011-12 English Premier League season as Manchester City FC scored two stoppage-time goals to win its first title in top division football since 1968.
“Since Ian emerged as our year-round signature voice for soccer, his commentary has elevated our presentation of the sport to new heights,” said Drake. “His experience, authenticity and passion resonate tremendously well with our viewers, who have come to expect the highest-quality soccer commentary from ESPN.”
Darke added: “I am thrilled to be covering another World Cup for ESPN, particularly in such a fanatical hotbed of the sport as Brazil. The venues mean the match windows will be ideal for the ever increasing and passionate community of soccer fans in the USA, who will see every minute of every game.”
In addition to the World Cup, Darke is a contributor for ESPN FC on TV, the company’s global soccer news and information television program where he appears on Monday to provide insight on European football – mostly on the Premier League. He periodically writes for www.ESPNFC.com, the leading digital soccer brand.
In the United Kingdom, Darke is the lead football commentator for BT Sport, covering the Barclays Premier League and other major European leagues.
ESPN Inc.’s 2014 FIFA World Cup in the United States
The 2014 FIFA World Cup will be ESPN’s eighth World Cup and most comprehensive presentation to date. ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC will combine to air all 64 matches live and in high definition (June 12 – July 13), and WatchESPN will show all ESPN and ESPN2 games. ESPN3, ESPN’s live multi-screen sports network available in more than 85 million homes, will present matches live in multiple languages (other than English and Spanish).
Additionally, all ESPN studio programming – World Cup Tonight, ESPN FC World Cup Encore, ESPN FC, editions of SportsCenter, as well as the pre-game, halftime and post-game shows – and ESPN Deportes’ game-around-the-game programs will originate from the company’s production headquarters throughout the month at Clube dos Marimbás on the southern tip of the famed Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro.
ESPN garnered more than 40 industry awards, including three Sports Emmys, for its presentation of 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa – more accolades than any single event in the company’s history.
ESPN and Past FIFA World Cup Tournaments (Men’s):
South Africa 2010 – All 64 matches live and high definition. All World Cup studio programming originated from South Africa
Germany ’06 – All 64 matches live and in high definition
Korea/Japan ’02 – 58 ESPN and ESPN2 matches live (six tape-delayed broadcasts on ABC)
France ’98 – ESPN 27, ESPN2 23 and ABC Sports 14 (all 64 matches live)
USA ’94 – ESPN, 41, and ABC, 11 (all 52 matches)
Mexico ’86 – ESPN, 15 matches (U.S. cable television rights)
Spain ’82 – ESPN, 7 matches
— 30 —