On Monday night, ESPN soccer analyst Alexi Lalas, the former U.S. men’s national team soccer player, announced he would be leaving the network in January to join rival Fox Sports. Lalas said Fox made him an offer he simply couldn’t resist, including a chance to be part of the network’s plans to grow the American soccer audience. “Talking to the executives at Fox, there was a real desire to do something big and bold when it comes to soccer on television over the next eight years,” Lalas told Sports Illustrated‘s Richard Deitsch.
In his interview with SI, Lalas talked about the extensive coverage deals Fox has secured, including Major League Soccer, the Champions League, FA Cup, and the 2018 World Cup. But Lalas hinted he may have been disappointed in ESPN’s efforts to match the Fox deal:
Interestingly, when asked whether ESPN could have done anything more to retain him, Lalas said, “absolutely.”
“Look, this was not me saying I don’t want to be at ESPN,” Lalas said. “I love ESPN. This was an opportunity that came along that was so much more than what ESPN could offer — and when I say more I am not just talking money-wise. Collectively, [Fox] had so much more to offer and when ESPN didn’t [offer that], the choice became easier.
Update: Fox Sports has made the announcement:
— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) December 16, 2014