Editor's note: this article has been updated with the confirmation that Ted Lasso and AFC Richmond will appear in FIFA 23. Parts of this article have been tweaked to reflect this announcement.
Ted Lasso is a brilliant show. I love it, you love it, a lot of people love it. It was the uplifting TV series we all needed during the difficult days of 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic forced us to shelter in our own homes.
While the multi-award winning Apple TV Plus show continues to be one of the biggest TV hits of modern times, though, it's not been immune to off the field problems – particularly during development on Ted Lasso season 3.
Which is why the addition of Ted Lasso and AFC Richmond in FIFA 23 feels like a distraction tactic.
Yesterday (September 20), the official Ted Lasso Twitter account hinted that the fan favorite soccer coach would be included in the final edition of EA's long-running soccer franchise. The tweet suggested that Ted and company would arrive in a soccer-based videogame in the near future – the "Look out, Mario!" tag gave that away.
However, it was a reply from the official FIFA Twitter account that all but confirmed Ted and AFC Richmond's arrival in the forthcoming game; FIFA's social media team simply following up with the eyes emoji.
EA Sports and Apple have since confirmed Ted Lasso and AFC Richmond will appear in FIFA 23:
AFC Richmond. It's in the game.#TedLasso #FIFA23@EASPORTSFIFApic.twitter.com/PFvpPM1ZzxSeptember 21, 2022
Bringing Ted, his fellow staff members, and AFC Richmond's first-team squad to FIFA is a logical and intriguing move. It's high time that the Apple TV Plus series was recognized for its global phenomenon status in other industries. With EA ending their licensing deal with FIFA – the pair failed to reach an agreement over a renewal of their 30-year partnership – once their current deal expires, now is the perfect time to pit Richmond against real-world clubs in the world's biggest soccer game franchise, too, before EA and FIFA part ways.
This, though, feels like it's more than just a coincidence. Okay, FIFA 23 is less than a week from release (at the time of writing), with the soccer title set to launch on Tuesday, September 27. Revealing Ted and Richmond's arrival a week before the game is out, then, might simply be a marketing strategy to drum up interest in the game and the show before the latter's final season arrives.
There's no denying, though, that Ted Lasso's appearance in FIFA 23 is more than a mere coincidence. After all, it comes just days after a report claimed there were big issues with development on the show's third season.
According to news outlet Puck, Ted Lasso season 3 has been beset with – to use soccer-based terminology – boardroom and managerial issues. The report suggested that significant script rewrites, character arc shifts, lost filming days, and problems filming at Chelsea's Stamford Bridge stadium have resulted in a never-ending cycle of stop-start production that's beginning to wear the show's cast and crew down. Ted Lasso's cast are supposedly contracted to the series until it's completed, meaning they can't pursue other projects or acting opportunities until production wraps.
Production costs are reportedly starting to cause problems, too. One source told Puck that Ted Lasso season 3 was already 20 to 30 per cent over budget, resulting in Apple and Warner Bros. Television tussling over who will stump up the cash to allow filming – and the series' lengthy post-production phase – to be completed.
The lack of clarity around Ted Lasso season 3's wrap date also means that no release date has been yet, either, and that's a big problem for Apple. Ted Lasso is the crown jewel in its streaming back catalog, and the longer fans have to wait for its third and potentially final season, the more likely they are to get frustrated and turn to Netflix shows, Prime Video series, and offerings on other platforms for their TV fix.
This will be the first time in three years that a season of Ted Lasso hasn't launched on Apple TV Plus, too – seasons 1 and 2 releasing in August 2020 and July 2021 respectively. And, with the show's cast unsure when season 3 will be released – co-writer and lead actor Jason Sudeikis recently told reporters (as covered by Puck) it'll arrive "at some point" – there's not much confidence in a launch date being announced soon.
Things had been looking rosy for Ted Lasso as recently as September 13, with the series winning multiple gongs at the 2022 Primetime Emmys. However, Puck's report has certainly rocked the ship and it appears that there's an underlying lack of harmony developing within the Ted Lasso camp. If you believe the speculation, anyway.
All of this, then, makes Ted Lasso's FIFA debut seem like a way of putting a positive spin back on the show after a rocky few days. From a cynic's perspective, it's a classic marketing ploy or PR stunt to distract against any negative publicity.
Of course, it might just be a coincidental hint towards characters from a popular TV show making their debut in a similarly popular videogame series. It's possible that this announcement was always going to be made at this time of year, what with FIFA 23's imminent release.
Still, it all feels a bit serendipitous. This is the first major test that Ted Lasso has truly faced when it comes to receiving negative press. The confirmation that Ted and company are coming to FIFA, then, is more than just fortuitous in our eyes.
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As TechRadar's senior entertainment reporter, Tom covers all of the latest movies, TV shows, and streaming service news that you need to know about. You'll regularly find him writing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, and many other topics of interest.
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