Lucy Zelic and Craig Foster share emotional moment in closing World Cup coverage
Following a tournament in which she received fierce online criticism, SBS presenter Lucy Zelic wrapped up the World Cup coverage in an emotional scene that saw fellow host Craig Foster honour her with a nod to the late, great Les Murray.
“You came here – and it wasn’t easy to come and sit here on this couch after Les had done it for so many years - but you did it in an extraordinary way,” he said.
“You were brave, you faced personal challenges throughout as well and all of Australia, I think, has grown with you through this tournament and we are extremely proud of what you have done.”
Zelic, who hosted every match of the SBS World Cup coverage, was the target of brutal online comments throughout the competition that targeted her correct pronunciation of players’ names.
The former Miss Universe contestant and new face of SBS Football has long-attributed the way she said names to Murray’s legacy.
Choking back tears, Foster presented her with a bouquet of red roses – Murray’s favourite flower and a symbolic gesture among SBS staff.
In response to the heart-warming gesture Zelic also offered her own gift, saying Foster’s work as an Australian commentator “needs to be appreciated and respected”.
"I know you don't like appreciation, I know you don't like feeling it but you need to be appreciated,” she said.
“What you have done in the absence of (Murray), what you have done in the time that he was there at SBS needs to be expressed.
“I have never known anybody to dedicate more to the game than what you have Foz and I'm so honoured and delighted to share this experience with you.”
She also said she felt “blessed” as a football presenter for being given the chance to work with him in her transition to fill Murray’s spot.
“I’m only as good as the people around me,” she said.
“To be blessed with colleagues like you, who have always done nothing but respect me and shown me an enormous amount of support and appreciation, that is something that is truly special.
“I know that not many hosts can experience that, and also being a woman.”
Earlier in the tournament Foster lauded Zelic’s on-air performance as a presenter in the face of online critics, saying her work is respectful to individual viewers and their cultures.
“SBS is about respecting every single culture, and of course the way that you use the language is the most important way to show respect to someone, their background, through the name,” he said.
“What you’ve done here has been brilliant, it’s not only proper, but it’s important for Australia… Having linguistic skills, being multilingual is something you should be very proud of and something that I think adds a lot to our coverage and is very important.”
Zelic has previously admitted that she almost quit as a presenter over the abuse she received during the 2014 Brazil World Cup – which was her first as an on-air presenter.