Extra time with Al Arabiya sports presenter Battal Algoos
As football fans eagerly anticipate this month’s World Cup, Inside the Newsroom meets the presenter of ‘Fi al-Marma’ (In the Goal)
As anticipation around this month’s FIFA World Cup in Brazil approaches fever pitch, Inside the Newsroom sat down with the Al Arabiya News Channel sports presenter Battal Algoos.
Football fans across the Arab world are no stranger to ‘Fi al-Marma’ (In the Goal), which is presented by Algoos, one of the leading authorities on sports in the Middle East and beyond.
We asked Algoos what it is like fronting the region’s biggest sports-news show, and about his career prior to joining Al Arabiya in 2006.
Tell us about your beginnings in journalism at Riyadh Radio, where you spent three years. Do you consider the radio to have built the base to your career?
After my bachelor degree, I attended a high diploma course for broadcasters. I finished this course in one year then I was recruited by Riyadh Radio. I believe that radio sets a solid foundation for a career as a TV presenter.
‘Fi Al-Marma’ is one of the most watched shows in pan-Arab television. What’s its secret?
I am pleased to hear that, and I thank the audience and hope I always meet their expectations. There is no secret to the success though; we only strive to provide material sought by sports fans, the true stories about their favorite teams.
What kind of stories do you cover and what are the most popular teams and leagues?
The show is aired on a news channel so it is addressed in a news format. The show covers all related stories about the Saudi and Asian championships, as well as the Champions League finals. We hope to expand more if we get the rights. Saudi Arabia has the strongest football league in the Arab world; there are a lot of stories that can be presented to the audience about this.
Why is the show on so late at night, and how does that change how you present it?
That choice is the channel’s, and is based on studies of the general market, our competitors, and the target audience.
How would you define your audience’s relationship with football and its place in their lives?
Football fans are very passionate, they support their team for better and for worse. To be able to understand you must be aware of this relationship; it is a love relationship. So do not be surprised if there is sometimes unwarranted criticism, or when accolades are exaggerated.
Press reports say that, in 2011, there was a threat on your life. Tell us about that.
We get threats sometimes, but it’s not something to worry about. The fans get frustrated when their team loses and they release their frustration on the person who tells them that their team did not deserve to win. It’s like the words of a man who lost money on the stock market: he would laugh about it the next day.
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