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Norway star apologizes for slamming coach’s decision in World Cup draw

(Zhizhao Wu/Getty Images )

Norway star Caroline Graham Hansen has apologized for lashing out at head coach Hege Riise but stood by her frustration over her benching in Tuesday’s scoreless draw with Switzerland at the World Cup.

A regular in the starting lineup for Norway, Graham Hansen was brought on as a second-half substitute Tuesday. After the match, which ended in a disappointing draw for the Group A favorite, Graham Hansen voiced her frustrations in a TV interview.

“It’s tough, I don’t know what I can say. There’s not much I can say, I feel like I’m standing here with my hands tied,” she said. “I feel I have been stepped on for a whole year — everyone says all the time that we have to stand together as a team and as a nation, but I feel I’ve been on the receiving end (of a raw deal.)

”Nothing comes for free in life, but I thought I had earned a certain amount of respect, but maybe that wasn’t the case.”

She apologized Tuesday, saying that “emotions got the better” of her after the match. But she also noted that she still “strongly disagreed” with Riise’s decision to leave her out of the starting XI.

“I just want to apologize for my statements after the match. I’m just a human being with a lot of feelings,” she told reporters. “Emotions got the better of me. I took the focus away from what matters, and that is being here to play the World Cup.

“I respect that the coach decides, and she has the right to do what is best. I know it causes unrest around the team, when I speak out as I did yesterday. It was… not the rational me.”

She also addressed her comment about being on the receiving end of a raw deal after Riise was appointed head coach, again apologizing without backing down.

“A year ago I was removed from the leadership group as one of the first things Hege did,” she said. “I also disagreed with that, but it was not relevant to yesterday, and should not have been referred to. So I apologise for that. I want to do everything to help Norway further.”

Riise accepted the apology and said Graham Hansen is still a part of the team’s plans for its final group-stage match Sunday against the Philippines. Norway needs a win for a chance to advance to the knockout stage.

“She is genuinely sorry for her emotional outbursts, not only now, but also a bit back in time,” Riise said. “There is no reason why this cannot be a success story. We had a crash, now it has to be reset and then we will continue working forward.”