Football: World Cup - Motson is given the final word

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The Independent Online
JOHN MOTSON, who suffered the disappointment four years ago of losing out to Barry Davies as the BBC's commentator at the World Cup final, will be at the microphone for next month's final in the Stade de France.

It was explained before France 98 kicked off that the choice would depend on the two commentators' performances during the first phase of the tournament and it appears that Motson has shown the better form in the eyes of Niall Sloane, the editor of BBC TV's World Cup coverage. "Both John and Barry are universally acknowledged as being brilliant commentators, and it was a very difficult decision to make," Sloane explained.

Ever since Motson was launched into the TV limelight with his commentary on the memorable FA Cup giant-killing act when Hereford beat Newcastle in 1973 he has been the voice of BBC football. But four years ago, it was Davies who, fresh from taking over the helm at the 1994 FA Cup final, was controversially chosen to handle the microphone at the final of USA 94.

At the time, Motson was reported to have had trouble dealing with the double blow and his reaction prompted a huge wave of public sympathy. "Losing out at the World Cup and the FA Cup was not a particularly happy time, as you can imagine," Motson admitted. "Barry was marvellous about it but what could he say really."

The BBC say the commentary teams for the second round, quarter-finals and semi-finals will be announced in due course.