Former U.S. soccer star Landon Donovan is drawing criticism for telling American fans to root for Mexico’s team in the World Cup.
Donovan joined a campaign launched by Wells Fargo that features the player holding a banner that says “My Other Team is Mexico,” Fox News reported.
The 36-year-old native Californian was a star on the U.S. men’s national team and also played for Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles Galaxy.
As part of the ad campaign, Donovan tweeted out the message urging Americans to root for Mexico saying, “The tournament is here! USA fans, our team may not be in Russia, but our neighbors to the south are. So join me and their proud #sponsor @WellsFargo to cheer on our other team, Mexico @miseleccionmxEN. ¡Vamos México!”
The tournament is here! USA fans, our team may not be in Russia, but our neighbors to the south are. So join me and their proud #sponsor @WellsFargo to cheer on our other team, Mexico @miseleccionmxEN. ¡Vamos México! pic.twitter.com/YIifLGCT0D
— Landon Donovan (@landondonovan) June 16, 2018
The U.S. team did not qualify for the World Cup and are absent from the tournament this year.
But Donovan’s well-wishing for Mexico is not sitting well with many American soccer fans. Indeed, Cobi Jones, a former player who was injured in 2002 by a headbutt from a Mexican player, told Donovan that “Mexico is not MY team.”
Nah man!!! Mexico is not “my team.” Mexico is a… https://t.co/mLvcYSMBas
— Cobi Jones (@cobijones) June 17, 2018
Another former player, Taylor Twellman, tweeted that he would rather “cut his toe off” than root for Mexico.
I’d rather cut off my toe than “root for 🇲🇽” & I’m on the outside on this one, but how could I root for my/our rival?! Imagine any 🇱 players rooting for 🇷 today?! I can’t imagine how @AmericanOutlaws would feel if I rooted for Mexico….but then again I’m old school. https://t.co/wN910307vI
— Taylor Twellman (@TaylorTwellman) June 16, 2018
Many rank and file U.S. fans also attacked the player for his support of Mexico. The heat grew so hot that Donovan soon tried to explain his sudden love for Mexico by insisting that he is an American whose loyalty to the U.S. should not be questioned.
“My heart bleeds red, white and blue and no one should ever question my allegiance to and support of US Soccer and all of its national teams,” Donovan’s June 17 statement began.
— Landon Donovan (@landondonovan) June 17, 2018
The former San Jose and LA forward won six MLS Cups in Major League Soccer and until this month was a member of Club Leon but is now out after the Liga MX club announced that he was just let go early from his one-year contract.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.