Ernesto Motta (left), with Red Bulls announcers Michelle Gringas and Shep Messing. (Photo courtesy of Ernesto Motta)
By Michael Lewis
Ten days prior to the team’s season opener, long-time Red Bulls broadcaster and the voice of Spanish soccer Ernesto Motta was fired by the Major League Soccer club Wednesday.
Motta announced the news on Twitter.
The 61-year-old Motta had worked for the Red Bulls during two tenures in more than two decades since the club took its first steps in 1996.
He was replaced by Stefano Fusaro, who was named the team’s digital correspondent and Spanish radio host, the club announced Wednesday.
In a short Twitter video, Motta expressed his disappointment and dissatisfaction with how he was treated.
Referring to someone in the front office, Motta said someone “never called me at least for the last year and a half. Don’t even ask me for help, for anything. Just told me the team that no longer use me after 20-something years as a voice of the team. They go in another direction.”
Motta wore a Red Bulls hat during his Twitter message.
“It runited not only my vacation,” he added. “I got my hat, because I bring the colors. And doing that nine days before the season, I don’t think I deserve that. Absolutely no. That’s reality. I’ve been fired and changed the direction, but I love it all. That’s all I can say. Goodbye friends, goodbye.”
— Ernesto Motta (@ErnestoMottaNYC) April 7, 2021
Motta had two tenures with the Red Bulls. He was fired July 14, 2011 and sometime later rejoined the club in a similar role. He had been with the team since.
In 2011, the South Ward protested Motta’s firing and the dismissal of Roberto Sierra by watching the first half of an FC Dallas game in silence July 23. It was not immediately known whether the team’s supporters will stage a similar protest when the team kicks off its 26th season against Sporting Kansas City at Red Bull Arena Saturday, April 17.
The Red Bulls had no comment on Motta’s sacking.
Fusaro, an Emmy Award winner, has more than 15 years experience as a sports journalist, will contribute written, video, and audio content in English and Spanish. He also will handle Spanish play-by-play for the team’s radio broadcasts.
“We are very pleased to add Stefano in this role,” senior director of content and communications Jayne Bussman-Wise said in a statement. “Having a multimedia journalist with Stefano’s skills and experience is a big step to further our efforts to provide unique, authentic content to our fans in both English and Spanish. We’re excited about some of the content we will be creating together, along with our recently launched Spanish language twitter account.”
According to a press release, Fusaro will contribute weekly content to NewYorkRedBulls.com in English and Spanish, including written features, interviews and pre-and post-game reactions. He also will host the twice-monthly RojoXSiempre podcast in Spanish and appear regularly on the Red Bulls Weekly podcast with Matt Harmon and Connor Lade.
“I’m extremely excited to be joining the talented content team at RBNY,” Fusaro said in a statement. “The opportunity to help grow soccer, a sport that I loved since I was a child, in the biggest media market in the world is something that I do not take for granted. I promise to serve soccer fans in the New York/New Jersey area and bring them as close to their hometown team as possible. Here’s hoping we get a lot of loud ‘golazo’ calls on the Red Bulls Radio network this season.”
Fusaro spent the last four years as a national correspondent for ESPN, including two seasons as a sideline reporter for MLS on ESPN. In 2020, he was the only media member embedded inside the MLS is Back Tournament Bubble in Orlando for ESPN.
He spent almost a decade as a reporter and sports anchor for Univision and covered an array of sports, including the NBA, NFL, MLB, MLS, NHL, NCAA Football and NCAA basketball.