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Craig Foster’s World Cup preview

Arguably the world’s biggest sporting event is ready to kick off in Russia but for Craig Foster, there’s more to the FIFA World Cup than the on-field action.

It is the former Socceroos captain’s fifth time covering the World Cup for SBS, and he says the event provides a unique opportunity to shine a spotlight on different countries and promote a more global outlook for Australians.

He says the on-field colour and excitement is only a small element of SBS’ coverage, and adds that the broadcast team will not shy away from political and social issues arising from Russia’s role as host.

“On a tournament scale, everyone will have the opportunity to find out a lot about Russia but Russian society, in terms of our views of human rights, has a great many problems and it is going to be part of our duty to explain that to the Australian public because all of that knowledge is important,” he says.

“All of the local activists and people who have a political message to get out who are otherwise suppressed will take the opportunity during the World Cup to use the global media, and that is a part of the World Cup bandwagon that I really like.”

The Socceroos’ first match sees them meet France on Saturday, June 16.
Camera IconThe Socceroos’ first match sees them meet France on Saturday, June 16.Picture: Getty Images

Foster heads SBS’ commentary team alongside The World Game’s Lucy Zelic, with coverage beginning with the opening match between Russia and Saudi Arabia tonight.

The blockbuster first weekend continues with the highly anticipated clash between Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal and rival Spain from 1.30am on Saturday, and the Socceroos’ debut at 5pm Saturday against France.

“Our team has been stronger in the past, however our group opponents have also been more difficult, so on the balance, I believe Australia has an outstanding opportunity to get out of the group stage,” Foster says. “This is our fourth consecutive World Cup and our expectation has to rise. It is time we started talking about making the round of 16 every time because we are capable.”

As the official broadcaster, SBS’ coverage includes 25 premium matches from at least 22 of the 32 competing nations, including all Socceroos games, all semi-finals, and the grand final match on July 15.

The 2018 tournament is former Socceroos captain Foster’s fifth time covering the World Cup for SBS.
Camera IconThe 2018 tournament is former Socceroos captain Foster’s fifth time covering the World Cup for SBS.

Iconic British soccer commentator Martin Tyler will provide exclusive commentary for the televised coverage, joined by presenter and reporter David Basheer and former Socceroos Craig Moore and David Zdrilic.

SBS Radio will broadcast all 64 matches live and free via the SBS Radio app, and each will be broadcast simultaneously in up to three languages.

“When Australia plays, I am unashamedly extremely partisan, and I think everyone understands that as a former player, I want our team to do well,” Foster says. “However, we are still needing to be very balanced and respectful of the other teams, and we are very mindful they have communities in Australia.

“SBS is about bringing the world, through that tournament, to Australians and that means every strain of Australian.”

Regardless of Australia’s performance, Foster says it will be a bittersweet experience for the broadcast team because it is the first World Cup since beloved commentator Les Murray died last year.

“I think what is important is the public do not expect Lucy to step into Les’ shoes (as host), because there is no more Les Murray, there was only one,” he says.

“Between all of us, we are going to do our best to carry his legacy forward, understanding he was the master and all we’re doing is our flat-out best to try and come close.”

Coverage of the 2018 FIFA World Cup airs from June 14 until July 15 on SBS. FIFA World Cup Today airs on Friday, June 15, at 3.30pm (AWST), continuing on all match days.

WORLD CUP HIGHLIGHTS

Group stage:

Opening match: Russia v Saudi Arabia —Thursday, June 14, 10pm (AWST)

The Socceroos’ first match: Australia v France — Saturday, June 16, 5pm (AWST)

Australia v Denmark —Thursday, June 21, 7pm (AWST)

Australia v Peru — Tuesday, June 26, 9pm (AWST)

Finals:

Semifinal 1 — Wednesday, July 11, 1am (AWST)

Semifinal 2 — Thursday, July 12, 1am (AWST)

Final — Sunday, July 15, 9pm (AWST)

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