For soccer fans, this is a flashback to the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan. It’s not necessarily a good flashback either, but we’ll get to that in a minute. First, the Red Sox announced in June that it would bring soccer to Fenway Park with an exhibition game between Celtic of the Scottish Premier League and Sporting from the Portuguesa Liga on July 21.
It’s also been announced that NESN will air the game in New England and Fox Soccer Channel will have the game nationally. But calling the game will be NESN’s own Jack Edwards who has experience in doing soccer play-by-play doing Major League Soccer, the Chicago Fire and the aforementioned 2002 World Cup which was criticized extensively by fans.
But Jack will have a nationwide audience and this should be quite interesting. Here’s the press release from NESN.
‘FOOTBALL AT FENWAY’ TO AIR LIVE ON NEW ENGLAND SPORTS NETWORK (NESN), FOX SOCCER CHANNEL, AND FOX SPORTS EN ESPAÑOL
BOSTON, MA – Football at Fenway, the Wednesday, July 21 soccer match between perennial Scottish Premier League contender Celtic F.C. and the storied Portuguese futbol club Sporting Clube de Portugal, will air live on the New England Sports Network (NESN) to viewers throughout New England, nationally through Fox Soccer Channel, and Fox Sports en Español, and internationally on Fox Sports in Latin America and Fox Sports World Canada as the first soccer match to take place at Fenway Park in over 40 years.
“We are grateful to our partners at NESN for once again stepping up to produce and broadcast yet another high profile event from Fenway Park and to the Fox family of networks for giving this anticipated match international, multi-lingual exposure,” said Sam Kennedy, Fenway Sports Group President and Boston Red Sox EVP/COO. “NESN’s world class production capabilities will allow fans around the world to enjoy this special event in High Definition. Earlier this year NESN’s versatility allowed us to distribute ‘Frozen Fenway,’ the first ever outdoor college hockey double-header at Fenway Park, around the country. Now, thanks to them, millions of soccer fans around the globe will be able to watch the Beautiful Game from America’s Most Beloved Ballpark.”
NESN will begin its live soccer coverage immediately following the broadcast of the Boston Red Sox-Oakland Athletics match up. A half-hour pre-game show hosted by Tom Caron will start at 7:30 pm ET from Yawkey Way outside Fenway Park, with kickoff at 8 p.m. The halftime programming will also originate from Yawkey Way. Former World Cup commentator and NESN analyst Jack Edwards will do the broadcast play-by-play, to be simulcast on Fox Soccer Channel (match only). Additional members of the broadcast team will be announced at a later date.
“The fan frenzy over the World Cup proves that this is the ideal time to bring soccer to Fenway Park,” said Joel Feld, NESN Executive Producer. “NESN has the best sports fans in the country and this will be a special event for us.”
The first ever Fenway Football Challenge is being made possible by Mayor Thomas M. Menino and the City of Boston, Celtic F.C., Sporting C.P., the Boston Red Sox, and Fenway Sports Group. Tickets for the July 21 match can be purchased online www.tickets.com/footballatfenway.
“We are proud to partner with Fenway Sports Group and NESN to showcase this anticipated match, live to soccer fans across America,” said David Nathanson, General Manager of Fox Soccer Channel. “As the premier year-round soccer destination in the U.S., the Celtic-Sporting showdown will be a tantalizing addition to our lineup of top-class international competitions, staged in a unique, historic venue.”
The July 21, 2010 match will mark the 19th soccer game played on the grounds of Fenway Park. The last time soccer was played at the ballpark was on July 9, 1968 when the Boston Beacons faced Santos F.C. from Brazil and their star player, the soccer legend Pele.