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Darke replaces Tyler as ESPN lead WCup commentator

AP - Sports

BRISTOL, Conn. (AP) -- Ian Darke is replacing Martin Tyler as ESPN's lead play-by-play broadcaster for the World Cup.

Tyler, the lead commentator for Sky Sports in England, joined ESPN for the 2010 tournament in South Africa, and his deal included this year's tournament in Brazil.

Darke also was a commentator for ESPN four years ago and gained a more prominent role for the network over the last four years with its coverage of the U.S. national team and England's Premier League. ESPN said Wednesday that it and Tyler had agreed to end their relationship.

Tyler said in a statement that ''Ian Darke made a long-term commitment to ESPN. That commitment deserves to be rewarded by Ian being the lead commentator at World Cup 2014 for ESPN. With that in mind, it was only right and proper for me to offer to stand down.''

Darke will broadcast the June 12 opener between Brazil and Croatia and all U.S. matches.

Following NBC's takeover of U.S. Premier League rights this year, Darke also became the lead commentator for BT Sport in Britain during the league season.

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