March 5, 2010
By Michael Lewis
A red card to ESPN for banishing Dellacamera to the radio for the World Cup
Imagine tuning into the much anticipated encounter between United States and England at the World Cup on June 12 and hearing English accents, but nothing with an American accent. That's what ESPN has planned for the American soccer public on June 12.
JP Dellacamera, who has worked in front of the camera for the last six World Cups, won't announce South Africa 2010 on TV, it was revealed by ESPN Friday. Instead, ESPN is bringing in announcers with British accents and others from across the pond who speak the English we all know, more or less.
Dellacamera has been relegated to a radio announcer in South Africa. He will work the first round and round of 16 games from the network's Bristol, Conn.'s studios along with Tommy Smyth before they fly to Africa to announce the rest of the tournament.
Dellacamera's biggest fault? He does not have a British accent.
What an insult to American announcers and soccer fans as well. We might not have played the beautiful game at the high levels the English have done, but we do know our soccer, believe it or not.
Nothing personal against the announcers that ESPN has hired. I have listened to some of them -- Martin Tyler, Derek Rae and Adrian Healey -- and they are pros and I certainly would not mind having them working the games. But no one with an American accent?
Had the U.S. not qualified for the World Cup, it probably would less an issue.
But if this is an American network, there should be an American in one of the four announcing teams. But there are none. This should never happen in any sport on an American network.
It's not that Dellacamera is a rookie at this. He has been working soccer games for three decades, including the 1999 Women's World Cup in the states and the lead man for MLS matches. He has been in such demand that he has been loaned out to NBC to call men's and women's soccer games at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics. So, there's some experience and quality there.
And some respect as well. In January, Dellacamera was honored as an honorary All-American by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America in Philadelphia.
He is the consummate professional and knowledgeable about the game, domestically and internationally. He should have been a slam dunk not just to make an announcing team, but to be on the lead team.
You have to remember that ESPN has a history of making controversial decisions regarding World Cup TV announcers. In 2006, the Bristol suits brought in baseball announcer Dave O'Brien, who didn't have much of a clue about the sport, to lead the announcing team in Germany.
Exactly which genius is making these decisions?
I just don't know about these television network officials when it comes time to make decisions to cover some of the biggest sporting events on this planet.
We all know of the headaches, gaffes and embarrassments NBC showed the world for two weeks in Vancouver last month.
Guess it's ESPN/ABC's turn to stumble into the spotlight.