New York -- ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC will provide 290 hours of original match and related coverage from the 2014 World Cup, which begins in 41 days in Sao Paulo. In the meantime, the worldwide leader will kick it around with a number of related soccer programs.
On Sunday May 4 at 9 a.m., ESPN’s Outside The Lines will take a look at the grass roots of the host nation’s Jogo Bonito, with Brazilian Soccer System Unearths Gems. OTL’s Bob Ley, who was among the hosts at ESPN’s World Cup presentation at the Paley Center here on Friday, traveled to the South American nation to investigate its seamlessly endless source of talent. That pool is embodied most recently by Neymar, who was discovered by an olhiero (scout). Ley also mentioned how some top nine-year-olds in Brazil have agents.
Taking a page from HBO’s Hard Knocks and 24/7 franchises, ESPN Films will provide viewers with vistas of the formation of the U.S. men’s national team, via a six-part documentary series. The first installment of Inside: U.S. Soccer’s March to Brazil, bowing on May 13 at 7 p.m., tracked the team earlier this year. The subsequent five episodes -- focusing on Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, Michael Bradley and Tim Howard, among others -- will be shot and edited week to week as manager Jurgen Klinsmann looks to winnow his 30-man group to his final side during training camp and three international friendlies, culminating with a final episode on June 11, the day before the tournament starts. Encores will appear multiple times on ESPN2, as well as on ESPN Deportes and ABC.
Also on tap: more entries from ESPN Films 30 for 30 Soccer Stories. Mysteries of the Rimet Trophy screens on May 6 at 7 p.m., followed immediately by Barbosa: The Man Who Made Brazil City. On July 1, White, Blue and White premieres at 8 p.m. They join the previously aired Maradona ’86, The Opposition, The Myth of Garrincha and Ceasefire Massacre on the Soccer Stories' roster.
ESPN’s primetime newsmagazine E: 60 will devote its entire installment on May 13 at 8 p.m. to the World Cup. Segments include a rare interview with Argentina superstar Lionel Messi, a profile of the legendary Pele, and the backstory of U.S. captain Dempsey. Jeremy Schaap will provide an investigative report at the preparations for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Some observers estimate that 4,000 workers will die in constructing the event’s infrastructure.