FOX Sports MLS broadcast will feature first all-female crew
The FOX Sports broadcast of Sunday’s Major League Soccer match between D.C. United and the New England Revolution will feature an all-female on-air crew for the first time.
The group will include play-by-play announcer Lisa Byington, analyst Danielle Slaton and sideline reporter Katie Witham at D.C. United’s new stadium.
It is the first time any network has aired an MLS match with an all-female crew. It’s also believed the women are the first all-female trio to call a game among the top five men’s professional leagues.
The broadcast comes at a time when women are making strides in soccer broadcasting in the United States and abroad.
Aly Wagner broke ground this summer as an analyst for FOX Sports’ coverage of the World Cup in Russia, becoming the first woman to call a match for the men’s tournament in English. Other prominent female reporters showcased during the World Cup were Viviana Vila for Telemundo, Vicki Sparks for the BBC and Claudia Neumann for ZDF in Germany.
Witham, who played soccer at Capital University, has been a sideline reporter and host for MLS shows on FOX since joining the network in 2017.
“I’m excited that we’re finally here, in this moment,” Witham told The Associated Press. “Hopefully, we can get it to the point where it’s not such a news item and it’s more the norm; where we eventually get to that spot where we stop talking about gender, we just talk about who is best for the position. I think all women would appreciate that.”
Slaton played for the U.S. women’s national team and started her broadcasting career as an analyst with the Big Ten Network. She was part of FOX’s broadcasting team for the 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada, and has been involved in broadcasts for the Chicago Fire and San Jose Earthquakes.
Byington is the veteran of the group, having been with the BTN Network since 2007. She’ll cover college football at BTN this fall and work on college basketball for FS1. Byington played soccer and basketball at Northwestern.
“We have an excellent team ready to call this match,” FOX Sports Producer Shaw Brown said in a statement. “Collectively and individually, they have a strong connection to the game, and I hope each of them continues to get more and more opportunities.”