Simon Hill defends legendary caller Martin Tyler over nasty World Cup criticism

Martin Tyler is pictured presenting to camera at the FIFA World Cup.
Legendary football commentator Martin Tyler has been beset by criticism during the FIFA World Cup, prompting top colleague Simon Hill to come to his defence. (Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images)

You'd think calling at 12 World Cups and being regarded as one of the voices of football would insulate you from heavy criticism - not so. Famed football commentator Martin Tyler has come under fire for not injecting enough enthusiasm into his calls on SBS's World Cup match coverage, with viewers declaring he is 'phoning it in' and 'draining joy from games'.

One online article went as far as accusing the 77-year-old Englishman of 'ruining' the World Cup with his 'damp squib' commentary, imploring him to put in or hang up the microphone. Tyler's name is regularly trending on Twitter in the hours after matches as fans join the pile on.

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Leading football commentator Simon Hill has endured his fair share of criticism over the years and has come to accept it's all part of the gig. But he is disappointed such a revered figure as Tyler is copping it in the neck in what could be his final World Cup.

"It's totally unfair but it's a product of the world we live in unfortunately," Hill told Yahoo Sport Australia. "Sport is becoming sold through hyperbole and the next generation sort of expects that and that's not Martin's style.

"He's very conversational, he's old school and I grew up listening to people like that."

Martin Tyler's commentary defended by top colleague Simon Hill

Hill acknowledged he had to alter his delivery to connect with an Australian audience after arriving here from England. "My commentary style is probably similar to Martin's in many ways and I've had to adapt it because I've moved to a country where it's a bit different," he said.

"When I first got here, I watched a rugby league game and my ears were bleeding after 80 minutes. That's the style and that's fine - and football's gone down that road - but I think Martin's being viewed in comparison by a new generation that is much more invested in hyperbole.

"I'm a huge admirer of Martin's and I think it's hugely unfair that he's been singled out for criticism. He is hugely revered - and rightly so. He's a terrific caller of football games. And the fact that he's still doing it at the very top level is a testament to his ability and longevity."

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After so long in the game, Hill is still amazed at how worked up fans get over commentators.

He said: "We become part of people's lived experience in many ways and that's really nice, but it's not really about us, it's about the players.

"If you're reliant on commentators to get excited about a football game, you're not watching sport in the right way."

The FIFA World Cup 2022 is on SBS and SBS on Demand.

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