Not every soccer coverage show makes its own music videos, but The Soccer Gods does. Fusion’s soccer show for sports fans doesn’t focus on the gritty play-by-play but on the fun talked about life of a soccer geek, on and off the field. If you want to talk about FIFA, David Beckham’s underwear, and all the pop culture that surrounds the popular sport, hosts Simon Carr and Nando Vila are your guys. We sat down and talked to the “Gods” about their favorite players and if this is the tipping point for soccer in America.
Soccer Gods, what do you love about doing the show? What do you want people to know about it?
Nando Vila: I think it’s a really fun show. It’s kind of a silly look at the world of soccer. Soccer overall is an undercovered thing in the United States. There’s not a lot of media about it. And I think that we add a little bit of an extra layer of fun, vis-à-vis other sports coverage that you see, where it’s all very serious.
Simon Carr: There’s a lot of good stuff that happens on the field, which we love. We both grew up loving soccer, and I think that comes across in the show. But there’s so much stupid, crazy stuff that happens off of it, whether it’s the glamorous lifestyle or fashion or weird tattoos, so we try and cover all that kind of stuff as well—just because that’s the stuff that makes us laugh. It’s essentially our show. We’re quite lucky. It’s the kind of conversation we have when we are having dinner or eating lunch or in a bar. It’s the kind of stuff we talk about all the time, and they’ve given us a TV show about it, which is kind of cool.
Nando: We take a very fan-centric point of view. We don’t pretend to be tactical experts. We’re not former players or anything like that. We are just hard-core fans so we take the fans point of view, always.
What soccer players would you love to have on the show?
Nando: Oh dear, I would love to talk to Mario Balotelli. I think he’s just a fascinating character. He’s just one of those guys who’s unapologetic and doesn’t kind of fit into the system, and just kind of does what he wants. I always think that’s kind of cool—in a culture where in professional sports we want to create these cookie cutter athletes that are completely uninteresting and boring, guys that break out of the mold are always fascinating to me. And then, of course, Cristiano Ronaldo because he’s the best player on my favorite team, and he’s one of the best players in the world. He’s also kind of a fascinating character. I would love to have him.
Simon: You’ve stolen one of mine. Mario Balotelli plays for my team, so I’d have said Mario. I’d probably go with someone… I know he’s retired, but he’s 40 so I can relate. David Beckham just ‘cause he’s transcended the sport, and virtually everybody in the world knows who he is. I’d just like to know about those underpants he advertises, if he wears them once and throws them away, or if he does his own laundry.
Soccer really is an international sport. Why do you think it’s been slow to catch on with American audience? And what do you hope your show does to enhance the love of soccer stateside?
Nando: Well, Simon is a recent immigrant so he doesn’t know anything about this. [Laughs.] It used to be very hard in the United States to watch soccer. It was just a very difficult thing. You didn’t have access to the English premiere league or the Spanish league or the Italian league. It was very, very difficult to watch. You just didn’t have the highest level of the sport available to consume, and Americans love to watch the highest level—that’s what they care about. They care about the best. And it wasn’t until you started to see soccer on TV more and more here, when the English league came here, and when the Spanish league came here, that you started to see a peak in interest. Couple that with the success the U.S. national team has had in World Cups, where they have sort of out performed their skill level, quite frankly, and that’s captured the imagination of the audiences here. And now you have NBC sports doing full-on premiere league coverage, and they do a great job. It’s just become much, much easier to be a soccer fan in this country. As well as the Internet has allowed you to consume media from around the world and be informed. So I think soccer has really turned the corner. ESPN has done a great job of covering soccer during the big tournaments, and they’ve actually stared including regular soccer highlights in their Sportscenter packages, which is a huge thing. So it’s definitely hit the tipping point to the point where I think now there’s no turning back, and it’s just going to become one of the major sports in this country. It’s already the most played sport amongst kids and young people in general. So it’s only a matter of time before it catches up to the other major sports.
Simon: My short answer to all that, being an immigrant is: “Sigh Americans.” But I would say since I’ve been here in the states, I’ve been here for three years now, watching MLS fans, U.S. men’s national teams fans, watching those guys embrace the sport is actually really exciting for me because it’s like some of those fans are on the journey. They’re discovering it now in the last few years with that explosion of coverage, and it’s kind of like I was when I was a kid and learning about the game. There are all these nuances and historical facts and great characters from the past. Soccer fans here are finding out about that, and once you find out about the history and the culture behind the sport, I think that actually accelerates your appreciation of what’s going on on the field. And I think that it’s an amazing time for soccer here in the states because it’s only going to get bigger.
Watch The Soccer Gods Mondays at 9/8c on Fusion (Ch. 342).