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Heroic fictional soccer coach bumps up against real-world football villainy

Lasso-Faire?

Vandalized billboard in San Diego: In his public letter, Coach Lasso gave encouragement to local star Luca De La Torre before his “stroll onto soccer’s biggest stage.” Anonymous human rights activists then took the opportunity to do a little encouraging of their own.
Vandalized billboard in San Diego: In his public letter, Coach Lasso gave encouragement to local star Luca De La Torre before his “stroll onto soccer’s biggest stage.” Anonymous human rights activists then took the opportunity to do a little encouraging of their own.

A few years ago, Jason Sudeikis scored a surprise hit for Apple TV with his show Ted Lasso, the story of an American football coach possessed of a relentlessly cheerful disposition and an abiding sense of moral decency who journeys to England to take charge of a floundering soccer team. In short order, Lasso became America’s Good Guy, a sort of secular patron saint of positivity in the face of daunting challenges. In one particularly inspiring episode from season two, one of his players publicly rejected the sponsorship of a company responsible for neglected oil spills in Nigeria — a story that has its roots in real-life case of Shell Oil vs. a tenacious group of Nigerian farmers. Lasso and the team’s ownership were quick to support the player’s decision.

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So it was perhaps a touch surprising when billboards sprang up around the country prior to this year’s World Cup soccer tournament, featuring letters of encouragement from Lasso to members of the U.S. team — surprising because host nation Qatar has been credibly accused of horrific human rights violations with respect to the migrant workers hired to help that nation prepare for the 2022 event. (The Guardian estimated the migrant death toll to be over 6000.) And it was perhaps a touch unsurprising when those billboards were used to send a message back to Coach Lasso.

Reached for comment, Sudeikis was quick to condemn the billboard vandalism a “crude and morally simplistic rendering of a complex situation, and a total killjoy to boot.” He then reminded the activists that whatever the real-life inspiration for the sponsorship storyline, Ted Lasso remains the made up coach of a made-up football club, while Ted Lasso is very much a real television show that needs real viewers, “so please don’t screw this up for me.”

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Vandalized billboard in San Diego: In his public letter, Coach Lasso gave encouragement to local star Luca De La Torre before his “stroll onto soccer’s biggest stage.” Anonymous human rights activists then took the opportunity to do a little encouraging of their own.
Vandalized billboard in San Diego: In his public letter, Coach Lasso gave encouragement to local star Luca De La Torre before his “stroll onto soccer’s biggest stage.” Anonymous human rights activists then took the opportunity to do a little encouraging of their own.

A few years ago, Jason Sudeikis scored a surprise hit for Apple TV with his show Ted Lasso, the story of an American football coach possessed of a relentlessly cheerful disposition and an abiding sense of moral decency who journeys to England to take charge of a floundering soccer team. In short order, Lasso became America’s Good Guy, a sort of secular patron saint of positivity in the face of daunting challenges. In one particularly inspiring episode from season two, one of his players publicly rejected the sponsorship of a company responsible for neglected oil spills in Nigeria — a story that has its roots in real-life case of Shell Oil vs. a tenacious group of Nigerian farmers. Lasso and the team’s ownership were quick to support the player’s decision.

Sponsored
Sponsored

So it was perhaps a touch surprising when billboards sprang up around the country prior to this year’s World Cup soccer tournament, featuring letters of encouragement from Lasso to members of the U.S. team — surprising because host nation Qatar has been credibly accused of horrific human rights violations with respect to the migrant workers hired to help that nation prepare for the 2022 event. (The Guardian estimated the migrant death toll to be over 6000.) And it was perhaps a touch unsurprising when those billboards were used to send a message back to Coach Lasso.

Reached for comment, Sudeikis was quick to condemn the billboard vandalism a “crude and morally simplistic rendering of a complex situation, and a total killjoy to boot.” He then reminded the activists that whatever the real-life inspiration for the sponsorship storyline, Ted Lasso remains the made up coach of a made-up football club, while Ted Lasso is very much a real television show that needs real viewers, “so please don’t screw this up for me.”

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