Players from the U.S. women’s national team expressed their condolences for the victims of Thursday’s shooting in Auckland, New Zealand.
The shooting left three people dead, including the gunman, and five others injured, mere hours before the opening match of the tournament kicked off in Auckland. It took place at a construction site not far from the World Cup fan zone and close to a number of national team hotels, including that of the USWNT.
During Thursday’s match between New Zealand and Norway, a minute of silence was observed for the victims. Reserves and coaching staff from the New Zealand team left their dugout to stand in solidarity with the players. A minute of silence also was observed ahead of the match between Australia and Ireland, which kicked off later Thursday in Sydney.
“Unfortunately, I feel like in the U.S. we’ve dealt with this far too many times,” USWNT forward Lynn Williams said of her team’s reaction to the shooting. “But there was definitely a sense of, like, ‘Let’s come together, we still have a job to do,’ but also recognizing that there were lives lost and that is very real and very devastating.”
At the time of the shooting, which occurred shortly before 8 a.m. local time, players were beginning to assemble for breakfast at their hotel, according to U.S. Soccer. All players were determined to be safe and accounted for as the team’s security immediately got in touch “with the local authorities and the department of state.”
“We were just thankful that we were safe, that the first responders and everything was handled very quick,” Williams said. “Our security team was very swift to say, ‘Look, you can’t go anywhere.’ I think there was just a sense around the team that we recognize this is devastating. And then once we were able to go to training, we were like: We have to focus on the job at hand.”
The USWNT’s morning training was delayed, as was the team’s news conference. On Thursday, FIFA said that teams “in close proximity to this incident are being supported in relation to any impact that may have taken place.”
USWNT defender Crystal Dunn offered her condolences to the families of the victims and those who lost their lives.
“Everyone handles these situations differently,” she said. “So it’s important to give people the space that they need to work through obviously the trauma that has occurred today but understanding that we’re a unified team.
“We give people the space that they need and hopefully we’re able to get on the pitch and just have herself a kick around and just try to be connected again in a tough day.”