SBS will shut down The World Game digital platform, marking an end to the beloved football brand’s legacy that officially began in 2001.
The network’s Cycling Central website, which covered the most important news around events on the cycling calendar like the Tour De France, will also come under the knife, with both standalone football and cycling coverage to fall under the umbrella of the SBS Sport website going forward.
“The SBS Sport website will be the home of all our sports coverage, and the current websites for The World Game and Cycling Central will not be continuing,” SBS said in a statement, adding: “We’ll also be increasing our focus on providing live sport streaming and improving our catch-up service on SBS On Demand, so you can easily access more of our sport coverage.”
Despite the move to consolidate its sport coverage, SBS said it would remain the home of cycling in Australia, broadcasting major cycling events including the Tour de France, which will continue to be available exclusively to Australians on SBS under its current broadcast rights deal until 2030.
SBS also remains the proud exclusive Australian rights holder to the 2022 FIFA World Cup and will continue broadcasting several international football events.
SBS a victim of its own success, says Lucy Zelic
While cycling and football coverage lives on at the network, the move to cut The World Game website marks an end to a legacy linked to Mr and Mrs Soccer—the iconic television hosts Les Murray and Johnny Warren.
In later days, the face of The World Game television program was presenter and host Lucy Zelic, who said in a note on Saturday that whether you hailed from the “old soccer” diaspora or were born into the “new soccer” generation, The World Game website was an online destination unlike any other at the time.
She added that SBS had become “a victim of their own success” after championing the game at a time when no one else would and “this is a by-product of that”.
“From my perspective, it’s hugely important that our loyal readers and viewers understand just how heavy the hearts of our colleagues both past and present are, with [the] announcement,” Zelic wrote in an online statement.
“It’s been overwhelming to see that the impending discontinuation of the website has meant as much to the football community, as it has to us—your sadness, anguish and frustration has reverberated throughout the halls of SBS beyond measure.
“In my almost eight years with the organisation, I have experienced astounding highs but also extreme challenges that have come in the form of watching those whom I have loved immensely leave this world and the building.
“The sentiments around this latest departure are no different.”
After touching on the legacy of the brand and its history, Zelic ended her note by saying that she looked forward to seeing where this “new beginning” for football coverage will go.
As it stands, the rights for the A-League and W-League, which SBS previously broadcast, are currently on the market with Foxtel’s broadcast deal set to expire in July.
In addition, several international fixtures involving the Socceroos and Matildas, held by peak-body Football Australia, are also on the market.
Featured image source: Facebook/SBS The World Game