The AIB is saddened to learn that Les Murray, the former football broadcaster and known to football fans across Australia as “Mr Football”, has died aged 71.
Regarded by many as the voice of Australian football, Murray had been battling a long-term illness, according to his long-term employer SBS. He had retired from his role on the The World Game in July 2014, having played a major role in the game’s development in Australia since the 1980s.
In a statement, SBS said: “Les will be remembered not just for his 35-year contribution to football in Australia, but for being a much-loved colleague, mentor and friend who has left a unique legacy. To say he will be sorely missed is an understatement.
Murray pioneered football broadcasting in Australia following the launch of the National Soccer League in 1977, initially on Channel 10, and went on to become the voice of World Cup coverage on SBS for several decades. He hosted eight World Cups in total, his debut coming at Mexico 1986.
He also worked across the Asia-Pacific region as Chair of the ABU Sports Group for more than 10 years, and had been an advisor to the Association for International Broadcasting. Murray was also a member of the FIFA Ethics Committee.
Murray came to Australia from his native Hungary at the age of 11 after the 1956 uprising, without any knowledge of the English-language. Murray began his career at SBS in 1980 as a Hungarian subtitle writer, but it was his passion for football that rapidly brought him into the network’s sports team. By 1986, he was hosting SBS’s World Cup coverage. As an SBS football commentator and presenter, he covered eight World Cups before retiring in 2014.
Tributes have flown from all circles, with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, the football community and fans sharing their accolades of the lauded sports commentator.
Over his career, he championed the cause of immigrants in Australia, devoting much time to breaking down the many barriers that newcomers to the country had to face and helping to develop the country as a model of tolerance to all races. It was fitting that he worked for SBS, Australia’s multicultural network.
Les Murray will be greatly missed by his colleagues at SBS, the AIB, ABU and across the world of football and sports broadcasting.