The US television network NBC has purchased the rights to air the English Premier League in the American market, and has turned to the new and fictional Tottenham Hotspur coach Ted Lasso to help explain “football” to his fellow Yanks in a new video that has quickly gone viral.
Lasso, played by the comic actor Jason Sudeikis, has a Texas twang, wears the short shorts, visor and long socks favoured by American football coaches a generation ago.
At a faux news conference before British media, Lasso suggests “soccer” and American football have “a lot of small similarities. We’re going to play hard for four quarters”, he says, as an off-camera voice with an English accent says, “two halves”.
Lasso continues with, “Two halves. We will play hard till there’s a winner or a loser.” Says the same off-camera voice: “Or a tie.” Lasso continues: “You can tie? Do we have a lot of goals? Yes, we’re gonna win a lot of games, gonna get in the play-offs. No play-offs? My job just got a lot easier.”
He adds: “Ties and no play-offs. Why even do this?”
Later, Lasso is at a training session and asks an assistant: “Who’s ‘orange shoes’, there?” The assistant says: “That’s Gareth Bale.”
Says Lasso: “Gareth Bale, he’s from England?” Told Bale is from Wales, the coach says: “What, is that another country?” and earns a reply: “Yes and no.” And continues: “How many countries are in this country?” Says the assistant: “Four, sir.”
Critics have suggested the “Americans don’t get soccer” complaint is “old and tired” but most credit Sudeikis for the success of the five-minute video, which has been viewed more than one million times.
Wrote the biglead website: “For soccer fans, this is another encouraging sign from NBC, which is going all-in on trying its best to promote the Premier League for the American audience.”