The World Game hosts Lucy Zelic and Craig Foster have addressed criticism of the way Zelic pronounces the names of World Cup players, saying her care and effort is a form of cultural respect and a nod to Australian football legend Les Murray.
Zelic, who has provided match analysis and insights alongside Foster for the duration of the 2018 Russia World Cup, has been singled out in some corners of social media for her commitment to pronouncing names as they would be spoken in those players’ home nations.
In response to that (patently absurd) criticism, Foster took an opportunity during last night’s broadcast to voice support for his co-host.
“SBS is about respecting every single culture, and of course, the way that you use the language is the most important way to show respect to someone, their background, through the name,” Foster said.
Addressing Zelic, he said “having linguistic skills, being multi-lingual, is something you should be very proud of, and something that adds a lot to our coverage.”
“It means a lot to me because of the legacy Les put in place,” Zelic said, referring to Murray’s titanic influence on football coverage in Australia, before explaining its importance to viewers with more diverse linguistic backgrounds.
“You’re not pronouncing it for anybody other than the nation that you’re covering, out of respect for them. You’re pronouncing it for them,” Zelic said.
It’s worth noting that Murray’s memoir has prominently featured on the SBS set’s table for the duration of the World Cup. In it, the Hungarian-Australian explained that he changed his name from its original László Ürge after growing tired of its frequent mispronunciation.
That fact alone means Zelic’s dedication is a fitting tribute, on top of being hugely important to discussions about the world’s most influential sport.