Ms Lloyd was the only US player who refused to kneel to protest racism ahead of the bronze medal match against Australia during the Tokyo Olympics in August. She also stayed standing during previous games.
“What we had in the last several years was not a good culture,” she told the Fox Sports State of the Union podcast. “The mentality changed and it became toxic.”
When asked what specifically made the team culture unhealthy, Ms Lloyd said that “what made this team so successful throughout the years is we stepped in between the lines and we fought for one another. Whether that was the player in front of you, the side of you behind you and it didn’t matter what you looked like, it didn’t matter what you stood for. It didn’t matter what car you drove”.
In 2015, the US won the World Cup for the first time since 1999.
“Winning a World Cup obviously put us on a really big, big stage and endorsements started coming and the spotlight started coming and I just saw a shift in people’s mindsets,” Ms Lloyd said. “It became more about what can I do to build my brand off the field? What can I do to get an endorsement deal and less about what we have to do when we step in between those lines?”
“You can’t become complacent,” she added. “I mean, this game is evolving so fast on the women’s side, and you can’t become complacent at all. So I don’t think it was one particular thing. I think it was a number of things, but I don’t think the respect of wearing the crest and playing for your country and doing everything in your power to fight for your teammates on the field was there and you saw that.”
“You saw a team like Canada win a gold medal,” she said. “Not not the most talented team. You know, on paper, we had the most talented team, but talent doesn’t win you everything. You’ve got to be a team and you’ve got to collectively be on the same page.”
Several national teams knelt during national anthems at the Tokyo Olympics to protest racism and discrimination.
Some Twitter users criticised Ms Lloyd for her comments, with one account holder saying that she glossed “over that the USWNT won the World Cup during this supposedly toxic time. Oh and that she was a captain. And getting individual endorsements”.
“Carli was the most privileged and toxic person on that team, by far! I am so happy I never have to watch her on the field ever again,” another Twitter user wrote.
Another user said it was “weird how Carli keeps complaining about the culture that grew as LGBTQ+ and Black players started raising their voices. It’s just really odd that this is the era that bothers her so much. I’d say she should pray on that, but we know how she feels about kneeling”.
“Why would endorsements be an issue? Mia Hamm was anointed by Nike 25 years ago. 2016 & 2020 Olympics were failures, but won a World Cup in-between. An ageing core definitely needed to be cycled out, including her. Comes off petty/not willing to say ‘maybe I was part of the problem’,” one Twitter user said.