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ESPN plans massive promotional effort behind World Cup

Tottenham Hotspur 1 - 0 Arsenal

Soccer fans can be assured the 2010 World Cup is in passionate hands at ABC / ESPN, which is planning a massive promotional and coverage effort behind the event and where John Skipper, the Worldwide Leader's grand poobah of all content, is a huge fan of the sport.

During a news conference Wednesday to discuss ESPN's plans, Skipper said he had to be done by 3 to watch his favorite team, Tottenham Hotspur, in a big game against Arsenal.

(He presumably was quite pleased by the result, highlighted by the goal in the video above, which was No. 1 on that night's SportsCenter top plays.)

"We've pulled out all the stops to make sure people pay attention this year," said Skipper, who predicted the World Cup would "dominate" the sports conversation in the U.S. this summer and that ratings would be up 25 to 50 percent from 2006.

I asked Skipper why this World Cup for what ESPN promised (or was it a threat?) to make the most heavily promoted event in its history.

"We like the opportunity to have an event that has this sense of importance and global nature," he said. "We don't have to introduce Americans to college football. We don't have to introduce Americans to baseball.

"Here's a case where we think we have a moment in time where we put this kind of effort behind it and it will soar."

How important is it for ESPN to have the U.S. team survive the first round?

"For the first round, the individual games the U.S. is in will be the highest-rated games we have," Skipper said. "The impact on the other games will be minimal.

"Other than those games, the rest of the games will be great . . . I don't buy the theory at all that, oh my gosh, this is a big issue if the U.S. doesn't go on."

New York Sports