Rio has been one of the surprise stars of the World Cup so far. Not Rio de Janeiro - I'm talking about Rio Ferdinand, and his performance as a BBC pundit.
British viewers have been exposed to all sorts of commentary
during the World Cup, from ITV's Adrian Chiles and Thiery Henry disagreeing in
the ITV studio, to Robbie Savage's bizarre interjections in the BBC commentary
box. One of the best performances, however, has come from Rio Ferdinand.
He recently announced he will be leaving Man Utd, which is a
great shame, so perhaps he's trying to secure a future away from actually
playing. Time will tell on that one.
Ferdy has proved coherent, likeable, enthusiastic, charming
and, of course, knowledgeable. I also love his #RioInRio Twitter hashtagging. Perhaps the thing that's made him stand out most
is his willingness to get involved with Brazil. He's been out and about on the
streets, and even watched Brazil's opening game from the family home of his former Utd team mates, Rafael and Fabio, in Rio.
People have been surprised by Rio's engaging punditry, but
perhaps there's no real reason to be surprised. He's always been something of a
character on the field, and this is something that usually transfers.
Another notable performance for British viewers has been Neil
Lennon for his direct approach ("Iran are not a good team" - his first
words during a half time punditry debate), while the MOTD duo of Gary Lineker
and Alan Shearer are always dependable. Phil Neville's performance, meanwhile,
has been notable for its dryness - so much so that literally hundreds of people
took time out of their busy schedules to write letters of complaint to the BBC.
If I have one complaint myself, it's that (both
the BBC and ITV) have been guilty of
missing the culture a little. Both stations' coverage begins 30 minutes before each
game starts, which gives them little time to talk about anything else other
than football. What I'd like to see is 10 or 15 minutes before every game about
the venue and the city it's in.
A couple of the venues have recieved decent coverage -
Rio and Manaus, for example - but who, after watching the coverage of the
matches in Curitiba or Belo Horizonte, now knows anything interesting about those venues?
TV coverage, at least from a UK
perspective, has been both good and bad so far. As for Rio Ferdy, perhaps
Lineker best watch his seat...