Serious sport or comedy? Shaun Brown and his confused SBS TV management have taken a brazen decision to dumb down the network’s FIFA World Cup coverage.

What else can you make of the move to commission and heavily promote a comedy show titled Santo, Sam and Ed’s Cup Fever! nightly in the prime-time 8.30 time slot on SBS One?

Meanwhile, the serious analysis program The 2010 FIFA World Cup Show, with Les Murray and Craig Foster, will languish in obscurity on SBS Two.

Just read the SBS promo blurb for the comedy show: “Every night for the duration of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, comedians Santo Cilauro, Sam Pang and Ed Kavalee will gather in the World Cup Situation Room (The Blattersphere) for a left-field review of all the overnight action. Broadcast live at Melbourne’s Federation Square, each program will consist of well-informed discussion, ill-informed analysis and heated debate that might just end in fisticuffs or someone letting off a flare.As well as pre-recorded clips, guest interviews and surprise cameos, there will be regular reports from fellow football fanatic Tony Wilson in South Africa. (Commissioned by SBS in English) (Comedy Series).”

Nice touch in ethnic stereotyping of football fans engaging in arguments, fisticuffs and letting off flares.

The decision means SBS management is basically saying that football (aka the World Game) is not a mainstream sport and remains just a game for “sheilas, wogs and poofters”. How do we make it accessible to the masses? Oh, let’s do a take on Wogs Out of Work, but make it about soccer! Brilliant!

Even worse, the decision shows how far Murray has fallen in the eyes of management and, in return, how compliant he has become in tolerating this shabby treatment. How we miss the late, great Johnny Warren, who spent 25 years building the credibility of football and SBS, only to see SBS squander the legacy in record time.

Peter Fray

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