Oct 6, 2020 - Sports

How PBS introduced soccer to America

Photos: Getty Images; Graphic: Andrew Witherspoon, Aïda Amer/Axios

The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), which has given us gems like "Sesame Street," "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," "Barney and Friends," "Reading Rainbow," and "Clifford the Big Red Dog," turned 50 on Sunday.

One fun thing: PBS co-broadcast (with ABC) the 1982 World Cup Final between Italy and West Germany, which marked the first time a live World Cup match ever aired in the U.S.

  • Calling the action was Toby Charles, the host of "Soccer Made in Germany," a weekly one-hour highlight show that ran on PBS from 1976 to 1988.
  • As one of the only soccer shows on American TV at the time, Charles' weekly program also helped popularize the women's game with highlights of the 1981 World Cup in Frankfurt.
"Yes, the production values were very quaint, even for the time (this was public broadcasting, after all). And yes, the highlights were often several weeks late. But for many Americans, 'Soccer Made In Germany' was their first taste of the beautiful game on television — or at all."
Paste Magazine
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