If you're the kind of World Cup viewer who watches soccer all the time, you know who Fernando Fiore is. But if you're the kind of World Cup viewer who only watches soccer during the quadrennial tournament, you might not know him.
Well, you're about to know him, whether you like him or not. And it will almost definitely be one or the other.
Fiore is charismatic, loud, and a passionate lover of the world's game. Set to be Fox's late-night studio show host in Russia, he'll be bantering with colleagues and wearing his Argentine-born heart on his sleeve.
His style isn't like James Brown or Bob Costas, or even Mike Tirico. But Fiore knows soccer inside and out. He brought that knowledge to Univision for decades, where he was one of the network's most popular broadcasters. He hosted their Sunday sports highlights show, and worked on the last seven World Cups — the last five as Univision's main studio host.
He left Univision after the 2014 World Cup. A few months later, Fox hired him to work on English-language TV for the first time. Fiore's first big hosting job at Fox was Copa América Centenario studio shows in 2016. Last year, he traveled to Russia to cover the World Cup draw.
Fiore is very active on social media, and estimates that around 85 percent of soccer fans' reactions to his Fox work have been positive. He's fine with that. When Fox took the Copa América Centenario studio show on the road, he said, "a lot of people, only English-speaking people, were coming to me [saying], 'Oh, we love it.'"
But this summer will be different. Even without the United States playing in Russia, the audiences will be much bigger than those were. And while those audiences might not be bigger than the millions who watched him on Univision, there isn't too much overlap between viewers of English- and Spanish-language World Cup broadcasts. Which means a lot of people will cast judgment on Fiore who haven't before.
He's ready for them.
"I feel very confident that it's going to be different, but it's going to be great," he told the Inquirer and Daily News. "It's a really good feeling that after two summers in a row, you test the waters, and people [have] accepted you."
If the U.S. team was in the tournament, most of Fox's studio coverage would focus on them. Because they aren't, the network will put many other nations in the spotlight. Argentina will surely be one, thanks to superstar Lionel Messi. Fiore has never hidden his rooting interest in his home country, whether at Univision or Fox. And his boss, Fox Sports World Cup executive producer David Neal, doesn't want that to change.
"We allow our broadcasters to wear their hearts on their sleeves," said Neal, who worked at Univision in 2011 and 2012. "It doesn't mean they're unprofessional, it just means they love this game. Argentina is a big part of Fernando's life, and we would not ever want him to pretend that's not the case."