'Ted Lasso' Star Jason Sudeikis Speaks out After Sporting Controversial Shirt

Jason Sudeikis is opening up about his decision to wear a sweatshirt reading "Jadon & Marcus and Bukayo." The actor was photographed wearing the sweatshirt at the second season premiere of his Apple TV+ show Ted Lasso, which Sudeikis co-created and also stars in. The event came just after Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford, and Bukayo Saka became the subjects of racist abuse from fans after they missed penalty kicks in the Euro 2020 final.

In a new interview with British Vogue, Sudeikis explained that "the idea struck me the day before our show’s premiere." In Ted Lasso, the actor stars as a small-time college football coach from Kansas who is hired to coach a professional soccer team in England despite having no experience. Given the premise of the show, Sudeikis said he "felt it was necessary to use the platform of our big, fancy 'worldwide premiere' to try and personify our show's support of those three young men." Sudeikis added that "the country has welcomed us and our production with open arms, hearts and minds. As well as bestowing us with so many of the kind, talented, and hard-working people that work on the show."

During the Sunday, July 11 game Saka, Rashford, and Sancho, all team England players, missed penalty kicks that helped secure Italy's win in the Euro 2020 final. The three players were immediately met with racist online attacks that drew condemnation from many, including Prince William, who is President of the Football Association that governs the game in England. Sudeikis's sweatshirt was one of the many displays of support for the players, who are Black and among the youngest members on the roster. In an appearance on Tuesday's episode of The Late Show, Sudeikis further explained the players "caught a lot of guff online, the three young black men.”

"Our show is rooted in both, you know, despising things like bullying and racism or whatnot, but it also is rooted and takes place in London in England. And so yeah, it was just our way to use this big fancy premiere to spotlight them and let them know we got their back," he continued. "It was just a way to humanize and personify those three fellas… their surnames are on the back of their kits, you know, they're uniform so that’s why I use the first names, the names their parents gave them because they're kids, they're young men and they should have the opportunity to succeed and fail and tie like everyone."

Amid the online abuse, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday pledged to toughen measures against online racist abuse of soccer players. According to Reuters, Johnson acknowledged, "racism is a problem in the United Kingdom, and I believe it needs to be tackled, and it needs to be stamped out with some of the means that I've described this morning." As part of the effort, those found guilty of racist abuse will be banned from games. Johnson also said he "met representatives of Facebook, of Twitter, of TikTok, of Snapchat, of Instagram and I made it absolutely clear to them that we will legislate to address this problem in the Online Harms Bill, and unless they get hate and racism off their platforms, they will face fines amounting to 10% of their global revenues."