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UK media prepares for start of 2018 World Cup with extended coverage

By Sam Forsdick

With the first match of the FIFA World Cup kicking off today media brands have been promoting their coverage of the world’s biggest sporting event.

The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail both included a 16 page pull-out in today’s editions, while the Times, Sun, Metro, Guardian, Mirror and Daily Star also included extended coverage ahead of the first game today between hosts Russia and Saudi Arabia.

The Telegraph has announced it will be the first UK publisher to launch a live series on Google Amp Stories, a more visual format of telling stories, which they said “will capture post game big moments and colour from Russia 2018”.

The title will also feature guest columns and contributions to its Total Football podcast from ex-England and Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher and former England and Arsenal women’s international player Alex Scott as well as specially commissioned drawings and animations by artist Tim Vyner.

Adam Sills, head of sport at the Telegraph, said: “For football fans seeking in-depth, intelligent and quality World Cup journalism, there’s nowhere better than The Telegraph.

“Our team offers unrivalled expertise, knowledge and insight and will be the place for all you need to know about Russia 2018.”

Fans will also be able to discuss games directly with the Telegraph through their Whatsapp group.

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The Guardian has invited former French World Cup winner Marcel Desailly, along with Thomas Hitzlsperger and Marta as exclusive guest writers for both the Guardian and the Observer.

Daily editions of its football podcast and a special newsletter for subscribers, called World Cup Fiver, will provide a witty round up of the day’s matches along with news and gossip.

Will Woodward, head of sport at Guardian News and Media, said: “This year, we’re offering readers the most interactive coverage of the World Cup we’ve ever done.

“From world class commentary and analysis from our award-winning sports writers and top-class columnists, to exciting features and a daily version of our Football Weekly podcast, we’re looking forward to giving our readers around the world great coverage in the run-up to Russia 2018 and throughout the tournament.”

The Sun has launched an England supporter shirt, which plays on the England World Cup anthem Three Lions.

A spokesperson for the Sun said: “Millions of England fans become teary-eyed at just the thought of Football’s Coming Home and with the latter now watching from the sidelines, we couldn’t think of a better way to honour the ultimate football song than to stick three lions on a shirt.”

ITV and the BBC both announced their punditry teams with coverage split between the two broadcasters.

The BBC’s coverage will be led by Match of the Day host Gary Lineker and Gabby Logan with former Premier League stars Frank Lampard, Alan Shearer, Rio Ferdinand, Didier Drogba, Cesc Fabregas and Pablo Zabaleta as well as Telegraph Sport columnist Alex Scott joining the punditry team.

The BBC’s Vicki Sparks will become the first ever woman to commentate on a World Cup game for the national broadcaster.

The ITV line up is fronted by Mark Pougatch and Jacqui Oatley with Slaven Bilic, Lee Dixon, Ian Wright Gary Neville, Roy Keane and Ryan Giggs joining them as pundits.

Rachel Corp, acting editor of ITV News, told the BBC Radio 4 media show that sports editor Steve Scott and journalist Emma Murphy will head up their coverage.

When asked whether the inclusion of a woman was a conscious decision Corp said: “Emma is a fantastic journalist and she’s very good at doing this so she would have been up there in contention. She has done this kind of thing before.

“I think in all things we have to have a bit of a balance. We have a mixture of people who watch us so we have to have a mixture of people covering our news.”

Discussing the positive effect the World Cup can have for viewing figures Corp said: “It can mess the schedule around but of course if we’re on air after one of the matches it’s fantastic in terms of inheritance.”

Shortlist has branded itself as the “high-brow world cup issue” with three pieces of art specially commissioned for its front covers to mark the event.

News agency Agence France-Presse previously announced it was deploying a 140-strong team to produce up to 2,000 broadcast and web videos, up to 1,200 photos each day, and up to 600 infographics and 15 videographics.

Picture: Reuters/Denis Balibouse

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