Landon Donovan doesn’t see soccer the way most people do. Throughout his career, he’s made decisions that have baffled experts and fans alike. From choosing to return to the United States despite a promising career in Europe, to taking a sabbatical at an age when many players are looking for one last contract to shine before they leave their prime.
Maybe that’s why he didn’t think it would be a big deal to star in an ad for Wells Fargo in support of the Mexico National Team – aka Team USA’s biggest rival.
But it was a big deal to many of his former teammates (and many US fans) who criticized him for selling out his ideals for corporate cash.
Donovan’s appeal is not wrong in itself. Cheering for Mexico is a good option at this World Cup, particularly after their impressive win over Germany. And, after all, Donovan has strong ties with Mexico and played there this past season. Everyone is free to support the teams they want. If you feel you can’t cheer for Mexico, that’s ok too.
For all of those reasons, the controversy was shaping up to be a “gotta hear both sides” affair. That is, until Donovan let his Twitter fingers get the best of him. Responding to criticism from former teammate Carlos Bocanegra, Donovan opted for an ill-advised “woker than thou” approach, writing in a since deleted tweet:
Donovan’s Tweet implied that Bocanegra was rejecting his Mexican roots and that not supporting Mexico carried a moral weight. Seems like a dubious take from someone who was paid to cheer for the MNT by a bank recently investigated for its predatory lending practices towards Mexican-Americans. Naturally, people were not having it:
By Monday afternoon, Donovan had deleted his earlier tweet and apologized, as well as issued a clarifying statement on his stance.
So what’s the takeaway from this brief social media outrage cycle? 1. Root for whoever you want. 2. Please don’t wokesplain someone’s heritage to them. 3. Not rooting for the MNT doesn’t mean you have anything against Mexicans.