Ted Lasso’s Nate and Being an Asian Man in Soccer


Throughout this season of Apple TV + Ted Lasso, I came to really hate Nate, played by the sweet Nick Mohammed. There are so many ways that Nate has delved into the more toxic elements of football’s masculinity culture, and it has been exhausting.

Nate’s turn to meanness is doubly interesting. It’s a compelling look at how bullied people can become bullies themselves, especially when they decide their own mistreatment entitles them, but also, Nate was the only recurring Asian character. from the Serie.

Anti-Asian racism in the UK is different from that in the US for a number of reasons. Unlike the United States, where the Asian population is relatively small compared to other minority groups, in the United Kingdom, the Asian population, according to 2011 census data, is the second largest ethnic population, after white Britons. For this reason, there have been many openly hostile interactions between white and Asian populations in the UK, explicitly dating back to the 1960s.

Paki bashing became something Southeast Asian communities had to fear – mainly white skinheads in power, the National Front and the National Party – throughout the 1970s and 1980s.

Going back even further, in 1901, when the first Chinese laundry was opened in the British capital, the company was stoned by crowds of people. British sailors are said to try to prevent Chinese workers from boarding the ships. After World War II, Britain forcibly expelled hundreds of Chinese sailors who had been recruited into the Royal Navy because they were seen as an “undesirable element” in British society.

With COVID-19, according to advocacy group End the Virus of Racism, there has been a 300 percent increase hate crimes against people of East and Southeast Asian descent since the start of the pandemic.

In soccer, the fact that there is racism in sports is nothing new, and a lot of the research you will find focuses on black players. While black players are very visible in sport, they also face discrimination at all levels: public (anti-black racism on the part of supporters in stadiums), private (abusive MDs on social networks) and institutional (lack of management opportunities and coaching).

But what about Asian players? Asian coaches?

In 2017, the BBC reported, “Of the 3,000 professional footballers in England’s leagues, only 10 of them are British Asians, according to the FA.” Even with those who exist, like Roger Verdi, born Rajinder Singh Virdee, he changed his name because of racism.

Then, in 2019, Dr Dan Kivington wrote an article on the exclusion of British Asian players and the under-representation of BAME coaches and managers in football.

“Although South Asian communities have a relationship with football that dates back almost 130 years, very little has been achieved in English professional football. Because visibility at the elite level has been so minimal, entrenched stereotypes remain, e.g. parents prioritize education, religion trumps sport, soccer is unpopular, physical sports do not. are not suited to the “Asian frame”, etc. While there is some degree of truth to some of these common sense justifications, especially among the experiences of first generation migrants, they have been embellished and commonly used to explain the exclusion of British Asians from English professional football. . In turn, British Asians are seen as the determining agents of their own exclusion.

All of this to say that Nathan Shelley is one of the few portrayals of an Asian man in football on TV, and it hasn’t been fully explored yet. Especially now that he’s become a villain driven by an inferiority complex and feelings of infantilization, I think it’s important to make sure he’s addressed before he gets a bit too … cliché. .

I hated Nate this season, and while I’m totally disgusted to have an Asian man as an antagonist, I just hope they recognize that Nate is a man of color, and therefore his relationship with football will be. always different from Ted’s.

(photo: Apple TV +)

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