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You can now play for Ted Lasso's team on FIFA

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Every fall, the video game "FIFA" - like the international soccer association - releases its newest version, and it is an event. Matthew Raab, a law student in Washington, D.C., has bought the game for years.

MATTHEW RAAB: I can remember it being one of the first games I owned - like, probably, you know, "FIFA 2004," something like that - back on a GameCube. Played it probably almost, you know, 20 years of it.

SIMON: Over 300 million copies of "FIFA" have been sold since it was released in 1993. There are usually just slight changes year to year. Not this year. The newest version will be released next Friday, featuring a new team with legions of fans devoted not only to players on the pitch, but their manager.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: "Ted Lasso" is coming to "FIFA 23," and it's going to be epic.

SIMON: AFC Richmond, the team from Apple TV's beloved and honored show "Ted Lasso," will make its video game debut in "FIFA 23." The partnership between the show and Electronic Arts, which develops "FIFA," was announced earlier this week with a soundbite well known to millions of fans.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JASON SUDEIKIS: (As Ted Lasso) EA Sports - I'm in the game. Ooh, did I sound like the guy?

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Yeah, you sounded like the guy, Ted.

SIMON: The TV show centers around Ted, the U.S. football coach hired to manage a struggling professional soccer team in England, where the sport is called football, but of course, it's very different. "Ted Lasso," though, has been an instant hit - quirky, heartfelt and funny. It has won eight Emmys in its first two seasons. Matthew Raab says he enjoys the show.

RAAB: You know, the idea of, like, an American football coach coming over to England and coaching a team is hilarious. It's really ridiculous.

SIMON: Funny and ridiculous moments like this.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "TED LASSO")

SUDEIKIS: (As Ted Lasso) Hey, look at Isaac. He looks like a Rodin sculpture in cleats.

BRENDAN HUNT: (As Coach Beard) Boots.

SUDEIKIS: (As Ted Lasso) Hmm?

HUNT: (As Coach Beard) They call cleats boots.

SUDEIKIS: (As Ted Lasso) But I thought you said that the trunk of a car was a boot.

HUNT: (As Coach Beard) Also a boot.

SUDEIKIS: (As Ted Lasso) Hold on now. If I were to get fired from a job where I'm putting cleats in the trunk of my car...

HUNT: (As Coach Beard) You got the boot putting boots in the boot.

SUDEIKIS: (As Ted Lasso) I love that.

SIMON: The show is filming its third season - I love that, too - and with the inclusion of AFC Richmond, "FIFA" fans will have the chance to become Coach Ted Lasso. "FIFA" lets players become virtual managers on something called career mode, a format of the game that lets players take control of a team and simulate seasons of their favorite teams in their actual leagues. Want to coach AFC Richmond in the English Premier League? You can. Want to have Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo play alongside Roy Kent, Jamie Tartt, Dani Rojas or whoever your favorite character from "Ted Lasso" is? Now you can.

On TikTok, reactions from excited fans of FIFA and "Ted Lasso" were abundant.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: The club will be usable across multiple game modes both online and offline. I cannot wait to use Richmond and "Ted Lasso" in career mode.

SIMON: For Matthew Raab, the opportunity to manage AFC Richmond on "FIFA" is kind of a welcome appetizer to keep him going until the show releases its third season.

RAAB: I mean, while we're sitting here waiting for the next season to come out, I mean, you want to take it forward yourself. You want to see where that team is going to go. And to be able to kind of take the reins and do that on your own time, I think, is obviously going to be a lot of fun.

SIMON: Yeah, lots of fun for sure, as long as you don't get your team relegated for losing. That means sent to the minor leagues. And if that happened in baseball, the Chicago Cubs would be playing in Evansville. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.