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Simon Kuper, Simon Strand and Mehreen Khan
Frida Vega Salmonsson

Heroes & Humans: Simon Kuper and Mehreen Khan to host new football podcast

Press Release ·

A transformative approach to football podcasting arrives with Financial Times columnist and football writer, Simon Kuper, and Mehreen Khan, Economics Editor at The Times of London. The duo’s new podcast, Heroes & Humans, brought to life by the newly created media venture studio Immaterial, will provide in-depth audio-biographies of football’s most notable figures. The show is produced by OneFinePlay. It will be released across platforms on March 21, empowered by a launch campaign in partnership with 433, the world’s largest social community for football.

Among the individuals to be portrayed in Heroes & Humans during the spring season are Kylian Mbappé, Mo Salah, Roman Abramovich, Megan Rapinoe, Hakan Şükür and Sir Alex Ferguson.

“I’ve spent 30 years interviewing and trying to understand these people. When podcasts came along, I thought: this is the perfect venue to present it all. And Mehreen is obviously the perfect co-host. The aim is to do a football podcast like no other, which treats these heroes as humans,” says Simon Kuper.

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Acknowledged as 'one of the world’s leading writers on soccer’ by Time Magazine, and having attended the last nine World Cups, Kuper has an incomparable understanding of the game’s impact on and off the field. He is a long-time columnist for the Financial Times, twice awarded Columnist of the Year by the British Society of Magazine Editors. Kuper is the author of several acclaimed football books, including ‘Football Against the Enemy’, ‘Soccernomics’ and 'Barça: The Rise and Fall of the Club that Built Modern Football’.

Mehreen Khan adds: “My start in journalism came through football writing and I’ve always found sport can be a brilliant shortcut in how to understand societies, economies, and politics. I’m delighted to be back in the game with a distinguished co-host in Simon to share insights into what makes our figures tick and understand where they come from.”

Khan, a football obsessive and die-hard Chelsea fan, intertwines socio-political narratives with pop culture savvy. She is a pioneering female voice in football podcasting. Khan was earlier the FT’s Brussels correspondent, before moving to The Times in 2022. She started her career in sports journalism at the Daily Telegraph in 2014, and wrote a football blog that touched on themes including Russia’s breakaway Muslim separatism, German multiculturalism, and the earth-shattering magnificence of Andrea Pirlo.

Immaterial’s debut: Crafting a niche in the platform economy

The newly established UK-based firm Immaterial is a founding partner of the project, and its publisher. Immaterial develops media ventures for the platform economy, partnering with creators, producers and brands. Simon Strand, founder of Immaterial, comments on the new venture:

“This is our maiden voyage, perfectly capturing our long-term intention. We will continue to create intellectually stimulating and inspiring projects across various media formats. Since the world is not short on content, our strategy is to ally with extraordinary talents, whose special abilities and strong creative convictions make the idea of competition irrelevant,” he says. The Swedish founder has previously advised executive boards in many of the largest media, entertainment and technology companies headquartered in the Nordics, as well as several high-profile artists, DJs and authors.

The Heroes & Humans team at production company OneFinePlay is led by Matt Cheney and Kasra Firouzyar. Series Producer Cheney, former Head of Audio at Vice Media, brings a wealth of audio industry experience. Producer and lead editor Firouzyar combines his award-winning documentary filmmaking background with the craft of audio-first narrative storytelling.

Engaging football’s expansive audience

The football podcast market shows a robust audience base, with approximately 34 million regular listeners. Football’s popularity, also in the US – where it is today the most favoured sport among people under 30 – underscores the potential reach and impact of the podcast. This new venture aims to tap into the growing audience, offering an engaging perspective on the world’s most popular sport.

As part of the launch marketing campaign, the podcast is partnering with 433, the world’s largest social community for football, with more than 115 million followers across platforms such as Instagram, TikTok, Facebook and X, which will highlight the initial episodes through its main social channels.

This is a press release which we link to from Podnews, our daily newsletter about podcasting and on-demand. We may make small edits for editorial reasons.

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