Landon Donovan says controversial decision to support Mexico at World Cup preceded ad campaign but feels it could have been handled differently

Club Leon/Getty ImagesLandon Donovan during his time playing for the club León in Mexico.
  • Landon Donovan drew heated criticism from fans and former teammates alike when he announced he would be supporting Mexico at the World Cup in an ad for Wells Fargo.
  • He recently appeared on a podcast and explained that Mexico has had a big influence on his soccer career and that he genuinely wants to see Mexico do well at the World Cup.
  • Still, he admits he could have handled announcing his support of Mexico and the ad campaign differently.

With the United States out of this year’s World Cup, one of the bigger stories within U.S. Soccer circles has been former United States star Landon Donovan announcing his support of Mexico in an ad with Wells Fargo, a decision which has drawn derision from fans and former teammates alike.

In an appearance on Sports Illustrated writer Grant Wahl’s podcast, Donovan explained that his decision to support Mexico came from a sense of genuine appreciation for the country and its people, and preceded his sponsorship agreement with Wells Fargo.

“A couple months ago, Wells Fargo reached out and said, ‘We’d like to do another commercial with you,'” Donovan said, referring to the “Hat Trick Rick” commercial he had previously done with Wells Fargo.

This time around, Wells Fargo was looking for a way to get fans behind Mexico at the World Cup, given the U.S. absence and the heavy Mexican influence within the U.S.

“I said, ‘Well I grew up with Mexicans, I literally learned how to play soccer from Mexicans, and I owe a lot of my career from Mexico,’ and I said, ‘Believe it or not I’m actually rooting for them,’ which took a lot of people in the Wells Fargo sponsorship and marketing team by surprise,” Donovan said.

“But I said ‘I do, I want them to do well, I just lived there for four months, and I know how much this means to them, and I realise it’s probably a little bit controversial, but I do want them to do well.'”

Still, Donovan admitted that, in hindsight, it would have been better for him to explain this affinity for Mexico to the soccer-viewing public, instead of just announcing his support the Mexican National Team in a promotional campaign.

“I think had I done that, it would have been a little easier to manage,” he said.

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