ESPN betting US soccer fans want more World Cup

NEW YORK (AP) " ESPN is making a big investment in the 2010 World Cup and figuring that soccer is no longer a foreign sport to Americans.

The same network that drew criticism for calling 20 matches from U.S. studios four years ago is putting together a staff of 300 people to produce the event in South Africa. ESPN has hired British announcers and plans 65 hours of live studio programming from Johannesburg. All the games are to be called live.

ESPN officials say the coverage plan reflects an audience that knows the game better than it did for tournaments in the past.

The World Cup starts Friday, when South Africa plays Mexico.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.