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Johnson steps down as lead FOX soccer broadcaster

Gus Johnson


Effective immediately, Fox Sports is looking for a new No. 1 soccer broadcaster.

The company, which owns the rights to the next two Men’s and Women’s World Cups as well as the UEFA Champions League and starting next year, MLS and the US National Team, shockingly announced that Gus Johnson had stepped down from the post.

In an interview with Sports Illustrated, the 47-year-old Johnson cited family commitments and overwork in football and basketball as the main factors leading to the mutual decision he made with Fox Sports president Eric Shanks to step down from his duties.

“I want to hang out with my wife and that is where I’m at,” Johnson told Sports Illustrated. “I don’t want to be exhausted, tired and unprepared. What I realized about calling soccer and especially international soccer, I needed to do 35-40 games just to get my bars up and my chops going. Because of my schedule, I never had a chance to get that kind of experience and work in.

“I always felt like I was cramming, and I don’t think that’s a good thing,” Johnson added. “If I’m not the best I can be, I did not think that it was something I should continue to do.”

The original move to hire the exuberant broadcaster after Fox won the rights from FIFA to the next two World Cups was met with mixed emotions from the soccer community, with some feeling that it wasn’t the right move, while others were excited to see what Johnson could bring to the table.

Ultimately, the criticism the network received played no part in the decision according to Shanks, who did admit that they were aware that such criticism existed.

The report stated that Shanks has a relationship with legendary British commentator Martin Tyler, previously of BBC and ESPN, who could be a possible replacement for Johnson.


  1. I’m perturbed by the comments criticizing Gus Johnson. Really? Guy has always been a bang-up announcer and a consummate professional. Possibly the best basketball/football guy in the business these days. And to his remarkable credit he realized that to do the job he wanted for soccer (and those other sports), he’d have to stretch himself too thin and risk delivering a substandard product. How rare is it in entertainment/sports/broadcasting that someone recognizes their shortcomings and even in the face of more money, decides to forego that opportunity to preserve their professional integrity? Good for him.

  2. I respect his reasoning and decision. In doing so, he’s actually showing a lot of respect to the profession, the viewers and the network.


  3. Bring in the Brit. It’s guarenteed at this point. Americans will whine about anything else.

    If they bring in an American announcer, he “won’t understand soccer”. What is funny/tragic is that these stereotypical anti-American comments come from…Americans.

  4. How about Derek Rae. I remember his solo commentary work on ESPN when they had Champions League. I always thought he was such a classy announcer.

    • +1,000 Great, great call. It”s a bummer hearing his voice and talent wasted on SPL games (though I guess it helps as a viewer). I don’t think I need to hear Tommy Smyth in the box with him anymore though. His unintentional radio comedy is much better.

  5. Very admiral by Johnson to step down. FOX had no intention of hiring a real soccer announcer so good on Gus to let someone more qualified call matches.

    • I agree. Gus is a good dude. What is amazing to me from that SI article is that Gus didn’t feel prepared to call the Women’s World Cup next year and Fox wanted him to do it anyway. Oh nice, Fox showing they want to start out their World Cup broadcast rights on the right foot.

      Even if you don’t like women’s soccer, you better pray they do a good job with the coverage next year because that’s the blue print. ESPN’s 2011 Women’s World Cup coverage was awesome and it was awesome this year.

  6. Why not recruit American soccer fans who love the sport and can do the job. Have a national contest for espn, fox sports and even nbc sports. They are all lacking young American soccer commentators which can be found in college or a pub. For example in Mexico, televisa the giant tv company has a national contest every 3 years given that their soccer commentators are getting old and need of new blood.
    I also remember espn having a anchor contest but I guess it didn’t work.

    • This sounds eerily like that show on FSC (anybody remember the name?) where they just had English fans call their favorite team’s game (usually while very drunk). It was the stone-cold worst thing in television history, but it did make you appreciate Max Bretos if only a tiny bit.

      For my part, I would like to hear Christopher Walken do the play by play, and perhaps have a less-deceased Maya Angelou do the color commentary, which would consist of 1-2 carefully selected words every 20 minutes or so. Just imagine the possibilities.

      But if they want an American fan who really loves the sport and can do the job, they could always hire Ives. It would be like a weird combination of the SBI Show and SBI Live Commentary, hopefully with some decent bumper music.

  7. Do people really like J.P. Dellacamera? He is just too much for me to take, too constantly over-dramatic.

    If you like him, what about his style appeals to you?

    • I just really like him for his traditional commentary style and very plain to the point and American. JP truly knows the American game inside and out with his long illustrious career since the 80s.

      • I hear what you’re saying– he keeps it simple and knows what he is talking about having been there since anybody was watching… he was swept aside without so much as a goodbye. But his style has always failed to capture the drama for me… it’s informational and solid but too unremarkable. If he ever had a signature call, I was in the bathroom.

        Another play-by-play guy who has a very plain style but manages to do this much better (for me) is Derek Rae, who somebody referenced here earlier. Rae is almost minimalist in his use of words but really captivates and simulates the imagination with his timing and cadence — the move from him to Gus Johnson was terribly deflating for a long-time CL addict, especially at first.

        But it’s always a matter of personal experience and taste, to some extent.

    • After listening to the great ESPN and NBC play by play, it is hard for me to listen to Dellacamera any more. He is too much like Gus Johnson actually – just reciting who touched the ball last. Maybe Gus Johnson used him as a role model.

    • I like JP, I wouldn’t say he’s the best American play-by-play guy – I reserve that for Phil Schoen, but I do like him.
      For one he’s American, I hate having Brits shoved down my throat for that fake authentic feel.
      Two, he understands the game and is a true fan.
      Three, he doesn’t call games in a ‘British’ style with an American accent, but calls games as we call our sports.

      • I agree

        We, as a soccer nation, are well past the point, where we need an Englishman in the booth to make it seem authentic.

      • Phil is a tee-up guy for Ray Hudson these days. But he’s good in his own right, and the best imaginable guy for getting Hudson worked up (well except Riquleme)

    • Well, actually…Fox Sports didn’t show any sense. If you read the article, Fox Sports wanted him to stay on calling soccer and Johnson was the one who stepped away. He’s still calling basketball and football.

      • Maybe, maybe not– This is how corporate demotions always look when dressed up for the public. If you’re keeping him aboard in a public capacity, you let him save face because he still has to have credibility elsewhere.

        I feel bad for Gus a bit because it did seem he was working hard at it, but yeah he was still utterly terrible. It’s good for everybody.

  8. The Fox Russia 2018 dream squad:

    Game commentators:
    Ray Hudson
    JP Dellacamera
    Janusz Mihalik
    Ian Darke
    Taylor Twellman
    Ross Fletcher

    Studio analysts:
    Rebecca Lowe
    Alexi Lalas
    Roberto Martinez
    Men in Blazers
    Eric Wynalda
    Rob Stone
    Michael Ballack

    Image if they were all in the same studio together. Amazing. Will never happen because of TV station contracts but WOW.

    • Shame on you for leaving out the General, Bob Ley. Take out Wynalda and slot in Bob Ley’s golden pipes.

      Lalas will also have a number of detractors but I get why you put him there for the “American” perspective, so I get it.

      Tirico was also good as a studio host even though he’s not a traditional soccer guy.

      • You’re right, but I would add in Bob Ley as the main studio host and Low as the second, like what Tirico was. But I would just love to see Wynalda and Lalas pull outrageous arguments on live TV.

    • Bob Ley and Alejandro Moreno should replace Wynalda and Stone. Also Julie Foudy was great and should do play by play for Woman’s World Cup.

  9. Sir Ian, please pick up the white courtesy phone.

    Fox, just hire the entire ESPN crew from the last WC for 2018 and call it a day, and add Rebecca Lowe. Voila.

    Thank god we won’t have to hear Johnson’s “top of the key” when someone is outside the 18 yard box. He was awful.

    • I agree. ESPN got the World Cup coverage perfect this time around. I honestly don’t even have quibbles with they way it was broadcast and presented.

      And yes, adding Rebecca Lowe would definitely be the cherry on top in this ideal coverage you spoke of.


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