Soccer Captain Apologizes for Criticizing Fans

Lindsey Horan, the captain of the US women’s soccer team, gave an interview to The Athletic, published earlier this month, in which she expressed her frustration with American soccer fans. She observed that most of them “aren’t smart, they don’t know the game, they don’t understand.” Apparently she was widely criticized for those remarks, so today she issued an apology.

“First and foremost, I would like to apologize to our fans. Some of my comments were poorly expressed and there was a massive lesson learned for me. When I think about our fans, I love them so much, this team loves them so much, and I can’t begin to explain how much they mean to us … The soccer culture in America is changing so much in a positive way.”

She went on to say that the fans are her inspiration, and that it is an honor for her to represent the national team.

“The last thing I ever wanted to do was to offend anyone in that manner. So, again, I deeply, deeply apologize.”

This is a tactical apology, where the speaker says what they need to say in order to move on (as opposed to an apology from the heart, where the speaker is genuinely contrite). That her “comments were poorly expressed” sounds good, but that implies that she was trying to say something else and it just came out sounding like Americans fans aren’t knowledgeable. But isn’t that indeed what she really meant to say? It’s not that her thought was “poorly expressed,” it’s that she never should’ve expressed it at all, in any form. At least, not now, when the US soccer team is getting ready for the Olympics and needs all the fan support it can get.

She says she learned “a massive lesson,” without indicating what it was. It would’ve been a stronger apology had she specified what she learned – or exactly what she did wrong.

Better: “I made some critical comments about our fans that hurt them, and I deeply regret what I said. I love our fans, and they have made huge strides in understanding the intricacies of the game, so I never should have said that they were not knowledgeable. It’s an honor to play for them, and I have the deepest gratitude and admiration for them. From now on I want to emphasize that instead of what I said earlier. I hope our fans can forgive me.”