Landon Donovan, executive VP and manager of the San Diego Loyal professional soccer team, will serve as a match analyst for Fox Sports broadcasts of FIFA World Cup games. He will be paired with play-by-play announcer Ian Darke.
The games, beginning Sunday, Nov. 20, will air live from Qatar on KSWB-TV Fox 5 San Diego, the local Fox network affiliate, as well as the Fox Sports 1 (FS1) channel. Matches will have West Coast start times of 5, 8 and 11 am
Considered one of the greatest US soccer players in history, Donovan is billed by Fox as a marquee addition to its 25-member broadcast team, which includes play-by-play announcers, match analysts, studio analysts, studio hosts, reporters and rules analysts . It will be Donovan’s World Cup broadcast booth debut on Fox after contributing to the network’s Copa America Centenario coverage in 2016.
Donovan played in three World Cup appearances as a player. He is the only American player to surpass both 50 goals and 50 assists in his career. His individual awards include the only American to win the Gold Ball Award, FIFA’s Best Young Player of the World Cup in 2022, the CONCACAF Gold Cup MVP in 2013, the Gold Cup Best XI four times and US Soccer Athlete of the Year a record four times. Major League Soccer, a men’s professional soccer league, renamed its Most Valuable Player after him in 2015.
“We couldn’t be more excited with the talented team of announcers, reporters and analysts we’ve assembled for Fox Sports’ highly anticipated presentation,” said David Neal, World Cup executive producer for Fox and VP of production for Fox Sports 1. “Our goal was to build a well-rounded group who could collectively connect with viewers and cover the tournament at its highest level.”
The month-long, 64-match tournament, organized by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the sport’s global governing body, concludes with the final championship game on Sunday, Dec. 18.
The men’s global soccer tournament is played every four years, normally in the summer. However, FIFA moved it to November because of Qatar’s extreme summer heat. The 32 qualifying teams are broken into eight groups for round-robin play, with the top two teams in each group advancing to the knockout rounds. USA is in Group B, along with England, Iran and Wales.
As reported by Ad Age, an advertising industry trade publication, FIFA’s corporate partners are Adidas, Coca-Cola Co., Hyundai-Kia, Visa, Qatar Airways, QatarEnergy and Wanda Commercial Properties.
Brands with specific World Cup sponsorships include Budweiser, McDonald’s, Crypto.com, Vivo, Byju’s Learning, Hisense and China Mengniu Dairy Company Limited. PepsiCo-owned Frito-Lay holds a North American regional sponsorship.
Sponsors for the US men’s team include Visa, Volkswagen, Nike, Anheuser-Busch, Allstate, Chipotle, AT&T, Deloitte, Biosteele, Gogo Squeeze and Hyperice.
Public alcohol sales are normally prohibited in Qatar, a predominantly Muslim country. But the country has eased restrictions for the World Cup to the benefit of sponsor Anheuser-Busch. Budweiser will be sold within ticket perimeters surrounding each stadium but not in the stands, as reported by Reuters.
Fox Sports has English-language broadcast rights under a 2011 deal worth a reported $425 million that also included the 2018 tournament. NBC Universal-owned Telemundo has Spanish-language rights in a deal valued at $600 million. NBC’s Peacock will stream Spanish-language coverage of every match, with the first 12 matches on Peacock’s free tier and the 52 games on Peacock Premium.
TV ratings for the World Cup are massive on a global level. The 2018 World Cup, played in Russia from June 14 to July 15, drew a TV audience of 3.5 billion, which equates to more than half of the global population ages four and up, as estimated by Reuters.
The Gulf nation of Qatar is the first Middle Eastern country to host the Cup and the smallest host site ever, with a population of about 2.4 million. But it is Qatar’s human rights record that is drawing more attention. Activist groups, including Human Rights Watch, have alleged that thousands of migrant workers have died from the heat and poor working conditions while constructing World Cup venues in Qatar. Critics have also cited the country’s laws against same-sex marriages.
(W)right On Communications Hires 2 New Team Members
(W)right On Communications, a San Diego PR firm, has announced that it has hired Sonja Hanson as a senior communications strategist and Aditi Vengurlekar as a multimedia graphic designer.
Hanson, a military veteran with 20 years of strategic communications experience, will be based in Seattle. Her prior experience includes serving as a public affairs officer at Naval Medical Center San Diego, deputy director of corporate communications for SPAWAR, chief communications officer for the city of Bellevue, Wash., strategic communications officer for the National Park Service and senior communications director for JPW Communications.
“We are pleased to have Sonja’s considerable capabilities help advance our client partners’ interests,” said Grant Wright, CEO of (W)right On.
Vengurlekar has a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and a master’s degree in visual effects and animation. Over the past decade, Vengurlekar’s experience has included development of marketing, branding and promotional materials as well as 3D animation projects for Pixel Dust Studios.
“As we continue to lead the way from the tell-me to show-me world of communications, Aditi will contribute new in-house capabilities not found at many agencies,” said Wright.
Founded in 1998, (W)right Onoperates offices in San Diego, Los Angeles, Seattle and North Vancouver, British Columbia. The firm is a member of the International Public Relations Network, a global network of more than 50 independently owned-and-managed communications and public relations agencies in more than 40 countries.
Clearpoint Agency Wins Business Intelligence Group Award
Clearpoint Agency, a public relations and marketing consultancy based in Encinitas, reports that it received a 2022 Public Relations Excellence Award from the Business Intelligence Group, an industry group that presents business awards to organizations, products and individuals.
Clearpoint said the Business Intelligence Group selected it as one of seven PR firms in the US to win a 2022 Public Relations Agency of the Year award and one of 52 companies selected for a marketing award.
“From strategic PR and marcomm plans and high-value content development to media relations, analyst relations and SEO, our team at Clearpoint has the expertise and connections to creatively elevate brand awareness, educate key audiences and drive leads,” said Bonnie Shaw, Clearpoint president and co-founder. “We’re honored to be recognized by the Business Intelligence Group for our creativity, strategic thinking, and ability to deliver solid results to our clients.”
Shaw told the Times of San Diego her firm has five team members.
“In 2022, Clearpoint Agency showed all of us how creativity and business acumen can serve the clients’ needs,” said Maria Jimenez, chief nominations officer, Business Intelligence Group. “In this post-pandemic age, teams need to remain agile and open to all paths to effectively communicate.”
Founded in August 2002, Clearpoint Agency supports clients in technology, financial services, venture funding, life sciences, healthcare, real estate and consumer products.
Ryan Leaf, Former NFL QB, Hosting Sports Betting Podcast
Former San Diego Chargers quarterback Ryan Leaf can add betting analyst as another job title for his post-football resume.
Leaf has been named host of “The Straight Line with Ryan Leaf,” a podcast produced by PointsBet, a corporate bookmaker with operations in Australia, the US, Canada and Ireland. The podcast, featuring wager analysis, targeting spreads, player props and futures, offers NFL-related broadcasts on Monday, Thursday and Friday, and a college football edition on Wednesday.
“With PointsBet’s market-leading emphasis on live betting options and their best-in-class user experience, it was an easy decision,” Leaf said in a statement. “I’m eager to use my knowledge of the game in a new and exciting way that connects me to sports fans and bettors on a regular basis.”
The podcast is available on the PointsBet app, along with PointsBet’s social channels, including Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and TikTok.
Leaf finished third in Heisman Trophy voting in 1997 and led Washington State to the Rose Bowl. He was drafted by the Chargers after Peyton Manning went No. 1 to the Colts in 1998.
He played for the Chargers in the 1998 and 2000 seasons, missing the 1999 season due to a shoulder injury, but was released by the Chargers following the 2000 season. He spent the 2001 preseason with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but was released before the start of the season. Leaf played four games with the Dallas Cowboys in 2001, starting three, all losses, and was released, ending his playing career.
His four-year pro career finished with 14 touchdown passes and 36 interceptions. The NFL Network documentary series, “NFL Top 10,” ranked him as the No. 1 draft bust of all time.
His personal life spiraled out of control after football due in part to a painkiller addiction. Arrests included charges of burglary, controlled substance charges and parole violation that resulted in prison time. After spending 32 months in prison, Leaf began assisting addicts and alcoholics stay sober for an addiction recovery program.
In 2019, Leaf worked with ESPN as a college football analyst after being a studio and game analyst for the Pac-12 Network.
Rick Griffin is a San Diego-based public relations and marketing consultant. His MarketInk column appears weekly on Mondays in the Times of San Diego.