By Todd Jensen — 

In mid-June, the eyes of the sporting world will be tuned to the largest sporting event on the planet.

On a worldwide scale, it’s bigger than the World Series. The Stanley Cup. The Masters. Even the Super Bowl.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia features 32 qualifying men’s teams vying to hoist the coveted golden trophy following the championship match on July 15 in Moscow.

And all 64 games, which begin Thursday, June 14, will be televised exclusively on Fox 25/48 and Fox Sports Go in western Wisconsin.

“Fox coverage of the 2018 World Cup is unprecedented,” said Judson Beck, vice president and general manager of Fox 25/48. “No English-language broadcast network has ever offered so much coverage. So enjoy, western Wisconsin! We have you covered on air and online. And you can stream on mobile or your computer via Fox Sports Go.”

For the first time since 1985, the U.S. Men’s National Team did not qualify for the tournament after a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to Trinidad and Tobago on the final day of group qualifying last October.

Sean Yengo, head women’s soccer coach at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, said the World Cup is an inspiration to American soccer players—no matter their age or gender.

“Once every four years, it’s inspiring for everyone involved in soccer in our country to see the best men players and teams compete on a world stage,” Yengo said.

“Soccer is the biggest sport in the world, and the enthusiasm and high skill level and talent with the World Cup is like no other. While we wish we had Team USA to root for, there is plenty of teams and talent to watch. From little kids playing AYSO to high school and college players, they all aspire to be a Messi or Ronaldo playing for their country in the World Cup—it’s the ultimate.”

Germany, the reigning World Cup champion, looks to become the first back-to-back champ since Brazil in 1958 and 1962. Perennial power Brazil features a deep and talented roster, as does star-studded France. And you can never count out Lionel Messi’s dangerous Argentina team or Cristiano Ronaldo’s balanced Portugal squad.

“You can watch on any given weekend plenty of professional soccer, but the World Cup is special,” Yengo said. “Every four years our sport gets this great boost of energy and attention. It’s bigger than the Olympics, bigger than the Super Bowl. The competition will be intense and fun to watch this summer.”  

FOX 25 48