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USWNT responds to homophobic comments from latest player to don Rapinoe's jersey

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Korbin Albert — Thibault Camus / AP
Korbin Albert — Thibault Camus / AP

On September 23, 2023, iconic, Seattle-based soccer star Megan Rapinoe hung up her jersey following her final match. The former US Women's National Team captain passed the badge off to midfielder Lindsey Horan and quickly settled into retirement with her partner, Seattle Storm point guard Sue Bird.

Since leaving the team, Rapinoe's absence has been filled by a young new roster of talent, but the latest player to don her iconic #15 jersey has gained recent attention for spewing homophobia online.

Shortly after she joined the USWNT, soccer fans noticed that Korbin Albert's internet presence did not align with the team's values. On TikTok, Albert reposted transphobic videos from conservatives, including one that referred to the term "cisgender" as disrespectful and another featuring an activist from the ex-Gay movement promoting conversion therapy practices. She also shared videos of her family mocking pronouns by declaring theirs are "USA."

Albert didn't limit her hostility to TikTok. The midfielder also liked an Instagram post made following Rapinoe's final Seattle Reign game, which thanked God for "taking time off performing miracles to make sure Megan Rapinoe sprains her ankle in her final-ever game."

On April 6, Albert subbed in at the end of the US vs. Japan game to an eruption of boos.

Albert (second from left) with USWNT team members in March 2024 — Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP  

Fans aren't the only ones to comment on Albert's homophobia and blatant disrespect toward the LGBTQ+ community, which makes up a large percentage of both USWNT players and fans. Hours before the US vs. Japan game, the team issued an official statement. Though not mentioning by name, it alluded to Albert's actions on social media.

"The women's soccer community is one of joy, excitement, kindness, and love. We have worked to ensure our community is safe, inclusive, and welcoming to everyone. As allies and members of the LGBTQ+ community, those efforts will not stop," the statement read in part. "Across the country, human rights are being stripped away. LGBTQ+ rights are human rights. Trans rights are human rights. Today and every day, the USWNT players will stand up for those rights."

Team captains Lindsey Horan and Alex Morgan also spoke out in support of the LGBTQ+ community. Though neither identify publicly as such, they made it clear they stand with their teammates and fans who do.

"We've worked extremely hard to uphold the integrity of this national team through all of the generations, and we are extremely, extremely sad that this standard was not upheld," Horan said. "Our fans and our supporters feel like this is a team that they can rally behind, and it's so important that they feel and continue to feel undeniably heard and seen."

"We stand by maintaining a safe and respectful space, especially as allies and members of the LGBTQ+ community," Morgan added. "This platform has allowed us to highlight causes that matter to us, something that we never take for granted. We'll keep using this platform to give attention to causes." She also confirmed that internal discussions have been going on within the team regarding the issue.

Megan Rapinoe — Peter Cziborra / Reuters  

Rapinoe speaks out
Rapinoe also spoke out publicly after Albert's posts came to light. On March 28, she posted to Instagram with a message to her fans, which read, "For people who want to hide behind 'my beliefs,' I would just ask one question: are you making any type of space safer, more inclusive, more whole, any semblance of better, bringing the best out of anyone? [B]ecause if you aren't, all you believe in is hate. And kids are killing themselves because of this hate. Wake TF up! Yours Truly, #15."

She also added a note, which read, "For all my trans homies enduring this horrific treatment day in and day out, I see you and hear you and I am WITH YOU."

Shortly after Rapinoe's post, Albert issued an apology to her Instagram story, which was deleted 24 hours later. "I want to sincerely apologize for my actions on social media," she wrote. "Liking and sharing posts that are offensive, insensitive, and hurtful was immature and disrespectful, which was never my intention. I'm disappointed in myself and am deeply sorry for the hurt that I have caused to my teammates, other players, fans, friends, and anyone who was offended. I truly believe that everyone should feel safe and respected everywhere and on all playing fields. I know my actions have not lived up to that and for that, I sincerely apologize. It's an honor and a privilege to get to play this sport on the world stage, and I promise to do better."

Albert isn't the first USWNT player to express hostility toward the LGBTQ+ community, but this time, the team has made it clear there is no tolerance for intolerance.