The Face and Voice of Football
Les Murray, AKA Mr Football, is widely regarded as both the face and voice of football (soccer) in Australia. As the most prominent commentator and presenter of football on Australian television, he is credited with championing the monumental rise in popularity of the sport in his adopted country through the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s.
Les, who immigrated to Australia from Hungary as soccer-mad 11-year-old refugee in 1957, began his journalism career in newspapers and got his big break when he joined SBS Television in 1980. He began as a Hungarian sub-titler then moved on to football commentator, presenter and eventually producer.
In the ensuing years he anchored, and was the Executive Producer of, the broadcasts of six editions of football's FIFA World Cup, four editions of the UEFA European Championship and annual coverage of the UEFA Champions League, the FA Cup Final, Australia's National Soccer League (NSL) and covered all of the Socceroos' World Cup campaigns between 1986 and 2006. In that period SBS twice carried off the coveted Logie for Most Outstanding Sports Coverage and achieved record audiences that still stand today.
As SBS Head of Sport from 1996 to 2006, Les worked to extend the network's football profile into the online medium, launching the stunningly successful The World Game website (www.theworldgame.com.au). He successfully negotiated the broadcast rights of the FIFA World Cup through three additional contracts, the Tour de France and the IAAF World Athletics Championships. In 2006 Les stepped down as Head of Sport to return to his first love, sports journalism, and is now SBS Sport's editorial chief, while retaining his role as frontline presenter, commentator and columnist. His vision and sense for broad strategy in brand-building have placed SBS in a strong position as one of Australia's primary and most respected broadcasters of sport.
In 1995, reflecting his iconic status, the Australian cult band TISM, released a recording of their song, What Nationality is Les Murray? - a track on their award-winning album Machiavelli and the Four Seasons.
Les has written or co-written five books, among them his autobiography, By The Balls, published in 2006, The World Game, published in 2011 and The World (Game) According to Les Murray, published in 2014.
Les Murray's contribution to football and to sports broadcasting is widely recognised and in 2006 he was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia. He is a member of Football Federation Australia's Hall of Fame and was named by the French publication L'Equipe as one of Sydney's ten most influential people in sport. He is chairman of the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union Sports Group, is a director of the Johnny Warren Football Foundation and serves on FIFA's Ethics Commission.
Les Murray's authority and rich experience in sports journalism, broadcasting and business, make him a much sought-after figure, opinion-maker, writer, raconteur and skilled speaker. He has spoken at the United Nations, the Lowy Institute, the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union and many international forums, on all manner of subjects, including sport, broadcasting, the ethics of sport and the business of sport.