The voice sounds familiar, even in far-off Sochi. But the name? Maybe not so much.
However, if you’ve attended a sporting event in Southern California in the last two decades, chances are you’ve heard Mike Carlucci, who has served as the public-address announcer for the Ducks, Dodgers, UCLA baseball and the minor league San Diego Gulls.
It’s a resume that helped win him a job as the English-language PA voice of the World Cup games at Fisht Stadium in Sochi, where Carlucci will work Saturday’s second-round game between Uruguay and Portugal. His duties include announcing the lineups, goals, cautions and substitutions in English and editing the translation from Russian to English to make sure the scripts are grammatically correct.
Russia marks Carlucci’s first World Cup although he has worked several Olympics dating to the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City.
“Russia is great, but so different [than] what we are used to in the States,” he said. “People are nice but if they don't know if you speak Russian or not, they have that mystified deer-in-the-headlights look when you approach with them with a simple word of English.
“Sochi has a cool flare to it. Very California.”
The most memorable games he’s worked, he said, have also been the most dramatic: Germany’s 2-1 win over Sweden on Toni Kroos’ goal deep in stoppage time and Portugal’s 3-3 draw with Spain, with Cristiano Ronaldo completing a hat trick with a game-tying free-kick in the 88th minute.
“The crowds get wild, like it is the last game they will ever see,” he said. “The drama with a particular country's team, win or lose, excitement and tears.”
But he noted that there have been a couple of hitches: the humid, muggy summer weather in Russia has been uncomfortable, and the sporadic Wi-Fi connection at his apartment in Sochi’s Olympic Village has been maddening.
“I go nuts when I can't get proper high-speed internet,” he said.
Carlucci will come home after Saturday’s quarterfinal in Sochi, his sixth game of the tournament.
FIFA: VAR is A-OK
The introduction of the Video Assistant Referee system has been the biggest controversy of the 48-game group stage but FIFA said Friday that the VAR has worked "close to perfection" with 99.3% of "match-changing" plays called correctly.
The system has had a major impact, with seven penalties awarded through the use of VAR. Two goals were given after being initially ruled offside, including one by South Korea that helped to eliminate world champion Germany.
Before the World Cup, there were concerns about referees who hadn't used the system before causing slower games and pedantic rulings on minor fouls. However, FIFA says the ball has been in play longer than at the last World Cup and that total fouls are down.
The VAR crews have examined 335 incidents — 6.9 per game — including all the goals, but flagged only 17 for formal review. Fourteen decisions were changed, and three were upheld.
The group stage by the numbers
Total attendance: 2,178,894 (average: 45,394) Goals scored: 122 (average: 2.54) Most goals: 9 (Belgium) Most goals conceded: 11 (Panama) Own goals: 9, a World Cup record Fewest yellow cards: 1 (Saudi Arabia, Spain and Uruguay)