At least Abby Wambach knows she’s playing a game she has little chance of winning.
The former United States women’s soccer star has doubled down on some of her most controversial remarks about dual-nationals who play for the U.S. men’s soccer team. Wambach first criticized head coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s use of such players in December. In an interview with The New York Times’ Sam Borden released Monday, Wambach once again questioned the motives of Team USA’s foreign-born (and raised) contingent.
“Do I agree with everything Jurgen has done? No, I do not,” Wambach said. “It’s just my opinion, and I’m entitled to that. It feels a little bit odd to me that you have some guys that have never lived in the United States that play for the United States because they were able to secure a passport. To me, that just feels like they weren’t able to make it for their country and earn a living, so they’re coming here.
“But do they have that killer instinct? I don’t know. I’d love to sit down with Mix Diskerud and some of these other guys and talk to them about it. I’d love to understand how much they love their country. I believe they can have love for both countries, but I’d love to hear it, and I think so many other people would, too. If this is an ignorant opinion, I’ll raise my hand in the end and say, ‘My bad.’ But I’d want to have that conversation.”
Many criticized Wambach last year for her stance on Team USA’s “foreign guys,” and her latest comments have drawn renewed fire. While we credit her for entertaining the idea that her opinion might be ignorant, we advise her against tripling-down on it.
Unlike the U.S. women’s team, the U.S. men’s players’ primary source of income comes from their clubs. International soccer isn’t how they “earn their living.” It’s the highest honor in the sport and validates the work they do in their day jobs. Wambach undoubtedly is aware of this difference, but her reasoning suggests she has chosen to ignore it.
What determines a players’ selection to Team USA is their eligibility (passport) and Klinsmann’s choices. It’s safe to assume he picks players based on their ability to win soccer games, not how vigorously they wave the flag or sing the national anthem prior to kickoff.
To deny someone this honor because they might not have been born in the U.S., or spent enough time here, or be unable to prove their love of country to Wambach is simply ridiculous.
Wambach can demand talks with these players, but they have no obligation to comply with her request … or even respond to it.
Thumbnail photo via Michael Chow/USA TODAY Sports Images