Telemundo Chicago's Rodrigo Arana Heads to 2018 World Cup in Russia

This is the first time in history that Telemundo hosts the FIFA Men’s World Cup. How do you feel about being the only representative from Telemundo Chicago in Russia?

It’s going to be fun. It’s going to be a huge experience for me. It’s my first time in Russia so I’m excited, curious…a little bit nervous about the language. I don’t speak Russian, that’s going to be fun trying to few phrases like ‘Hola,’ ‘Privet.’ I’m studying a little. I always think about these kinds of fans and so now I’m very interested to see how the people interact…you know, so for me that’s going to be the best thing and of course I just want to go and see all these football players …Messi and Ronaldo—all these fresh and young players.

This is the largest group of Telemundo station journalists to ever report from an international, live sporting event. What will your specific role be abroad?

My specific role? Well I’m going to be doing a segment from there, talk about the highlights, interviews and reactions covering the teams that are going to stay in Moscow. I’m going to stay there in Moscow for 36 days.

What games are you looking forward to the most?

Of course the final that’s going to be cool you know, but the Mexico against Germany that’s the game…honestly, I think Germany is going to win but you never know in a World Cup. During the World Cup you know, it’s always… you have something different so everything can happen. For me, Germany’s going to win the group but you know you never know. Mexico can have like a really, really good game, tie and probably that’s going to be huge if we win against Sweden and Korea, (they) can be the first in a group. It depends, it’s going to depend on the goal differential but they can do it.

Speaking of the final, do you foresee any two specific teams fighting for the Golden Cup?

I think Germany is the favorite to win again. I don’t think Brazil, I don’t think they’re going to make it, but probably Spain, I like France.

No Hispanic teams?

No, I don’t’ think so. I mean you never know, but I don’t think so.

I have to ask, Messi or Ronaldo, who is the better player?

Messi. Every time.

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Who would you say are the underdogs, countries that could surprise spectators?

Well Belgium, Portugal with Ronaldo, Argentina… you know everyone talks about Ronaldo and Messi but honestly, I haven’t heard anyone say Portugal or Argentina can win the World Cup. So for me, Belgium, Argentina, Portugal and France and Spain, for me, they’re the underdogs.

In terms of security, are you taking any extra measures to ensure your safety?

The Russian government is taking a lot of precaution measures because we cannot forget ISIS—they had said that they probably were going to do something during the World Cup, so they’re taking a lot of security measures and of course they are not allowing people to visit the country during the World Cup if they don’t have the fan ID so that’s important too. They told us to try not to take public transportation, to be careful with Wi-Fi and Internet connections after what happened with the hackers.

What is your favorite sport since you’ve covered all these different sporting events?

Well I was born and raised in Mexico…soccer is the most important thing, it’s even, I would say more important than going to church. I would say soccer and baseball are my favorite sports for sure. It depends. For work, I would say baseball but soccer, it’s exciting as a fan, as a reporter or broadcaster. I think soccer in the World Cup is a main event, the most important big event in the world.—There’s nothing like the World Cup.  Not even the Super Bowl.  You know everyone talks about the Super Bowl ‘oh it’s amazing’ every year but the World Cup… there is nothing you can compare it with.

How do you feel about the VAR (Video Assistant Referee) debuting this summer?

I’m pro VAR of course.  I think it’s going to make the sport fair and (in) technology, I know there’s a lot of people saying that the VAR is not going to make this sport better but I think yeah, it’s going to make it better because you know we’re humans and the referees, honestly, I think there’s a lot of things going on… even with five or six… they’re not able to see everything that’s going on inside.  I think it’s even going to make it more interesting for the fans to learn about the rules, people that are not huge soccer fans, with the VAR you’re going to have explanations of what happened, you’re going to have a replay.

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A lot of people argue that it may take away from the game because they will spend so much time going back to replay, instead of just pointing the incident out and moving on.

I think the same thing (happened) in baseball, tennis, the NFL and now they can’t live without it. I don’t think that’s going to be a problem and we’ll see.  We’ll see how it goes during the World Cup.

Out of all the major events that you’ve covered, which one has been your favorite so far?

Wow… I’ve been working in this for 12 years, I started when I was 20. I did six Super Bowl’s, seven World Series’ as a play-by-play announcer and all that, I would say that my favorite event was the Cubs World Series championship. That was the best experience in my career.

What are you hoping to get out of this experience, on a personal level or within your career?

Wow that’s a good question! You know, it’s going to be my first World Cup so when I started, I was thinking to cover the four main events in the world… for me that was the World Cup, the World Series the Super Bowl and the Olympics. So for me, that’s the only thing missing in my resume…for me it’s a huge thing. It’s going to be fun.

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