Jason Sudeikis, star of the hit football sitcom Ted Lasso, showed solidarity with three England players racially abused for missing penalties in the Euro 2020 final by wearing a sweatshirt bearing their names.
At an event in West Hollywood celebrating the second season of the show, which is set in the world of English football and which Sudeikis co-wrote, his shirt read: “Jadon & Marcus & Bukayo.”
Bukayo Saka, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford missed penalties as England lost to Italy in a Wembley final which finished 1-1 after extra-time. No England team has won a major international tournament since 1966.
Amid national despair, online racist abuse of the players caused huge anger and controversy, even being raised at prime minister’s questions.
Sudeikis told the Associated Press he decided to wear the sweatshirt on Thursday night “just in support of the three fellas from the English team in the Euro final. They’ve caught a lot of unnecessary guff from unnecessary people.
“I’m just giving them a holler, letting them know that even over here in the States we have our own issues with what they’re going through and let them know that they’re not alone.”
In the UK, rightwing media and online trolls expressed outrage at the England team’s decision to take a knee before kick-off in their games at Euro 2020, in protest at systemic racism worldwide.
The gesture was born in US professional sports, when the San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the pre-game anthem to protest racism and police brutality towards minorities.
Players taking the knee attracted the ire of then president Donald Trump and others on the US right.
Saka plays for Arsenal while Sancho recently left Borussia Dortmund to join Rashford at Manchester United. In the aftermath of last Sunday’s defeat by Italy, a mural of Rashford in the city was defaced. Police have said the vandalism was “not believed to be of a racial nature” but also that they are “keeping an open mind”.
On Twitter, Rashford said he would “never apologise for who I am and where I came from”.
Sudeikis’s gesture was widely celebrated online. Roger Bennett, one of the “Men in Blazers” who are at the forefront of English football coverage in the US, wrote: “Huge love for Jason Sudeikis’s sweatshirt … shows that like his character, he truly understands that football … is all about human goodness.”
Michele Norris, a Washington Post columnist, nodded to the appeal of Sudeikis’s show, writing: “Yet another reason to love Jason Sudeikis. At Ted Lasso season two premiere he showed support for Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford [and] Bukayo Saka because of course that is what Ted would do.”
Ted Lasso’s adventures as an American coach and therefore lovable fish out of water in English football received 20 Emmy nominations this week – the most ever for a comedy in its first season. The second season of the show, from Apple TV+, will be released on 23 July.