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Lindsey Horan apologizes for saying American soccer fans ‘aren’t smart’

The USWNT captain said the ordeal ‘was a massive lesson learned’

Lindsey Horan dribbles the ball for the USWNT
Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

United States women’s national team captain Lindsey Horan apologized on Thursday for recent comments that “American soccer fans, most of them aren’t smart.”

“Some of my comments were poorly expressed, and there was a massive lesson learned for me,” Horan said on Thursday.

Horan, who assumed co-captaincy of the U.S. ahead of the 2023 World Cup and has continued to wear the armband during a coaching transition, made her statement during media availability ahead of the 2024 Concacaf W Gold Cup. She singled out fans of the team in her apology to thank them for providing the “motivation” for the team.

Horan’s comments, which were published earlier this month, took aim at the naivety of soccer culture in the United States. Horan plays for French powerhouse Lyon and was the only player on the 23-woman World Cup roster who did not play in the U.S.’ National Women’s Soccer League.

“From what I’ve heard, people understand my game a little bit more, a sense of my football and the way I play,” she said in the article originally published by The Athletic. “It is the French culture. Everyone watches football. People know football.”

On Thursday, she walked back those comments.

“The soccer culture in America is changing and growing so much in such a positive way, and for me to be able to experience that first-hand playing for this U.S. women’s national team but also in the NWSL and for the Portland Thorns, is something just so amazing,” Horan said. “It is my absolute honor — and I will always say that — to be able to put on this crest every single day, to be in this environment and to go out and play in front of our fans and represent this national team. It is my greatest honor. The last thing I ever wanted to do was to offend anyone in that manner. So, again, I deeply, deeply apologize.”

Horan’s original comments earlier this month struck a mix of confusion and anger among many fans. The remarks had an undertone of insult but it was unclear who exactly their intended target or audience was. Asked to clarify what she meant to say, Horan said on Thursday, “I don’t think what I meant really matters right now.”

Asked what compelled her to apologize, Horan said, “What I had inside of me, how I felt about it, and what I read in my opinion of my own comments. And also me just wanting to express how much the fans mean to me personally. Again, not wanting to take anything away from that. So, I think that was just something always within me, that I wanted to do.”

In the original interview earlier this month, Horan also pointed out that the silliness of pregame photos — a minor trend in the U.S., but seemingly less so globally — “irked” her. A few days later, U.S. teammate Trinity Rodman said the pregame photos would “100 percent” continue to happen at the club level with the Washington Spirit and that they did not affect anyone’s performance. Rodman’s comments did not directly address Horan, but were clearly in response to the topic.

“I think all the players in this camp are very professional and they take everything seriously,” Horan said on Thursday.

“I want people to talk about how incredible we are on the ball, the possession, the style of play, the technical ability, the tactical changes mid-game,” she said. “These type of things that maybe I view when I do see some of the best teams in the world. So, maybe that was in my head, thinking of our team and what I want people to say about them on the field and how we’re playing.”

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