women's soccer
Is political controversy overshadowing the US women's soccer team's victory? (Illustration by Amy Wells, Suffolk County Community College)

Why Is the US Women’s Soccer Team World Cup Win So Controversial?

The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team celebrates their second consecutive World Cup win — so why are Americans so pissed off?

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women's soccer

The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team celebrates their second consecutive World Cup win — so why are Americans so pissed off?

The U.S. women’s soccer team recently come out on top as the victor of the FIFA Women’s World Cup for the second year in a row.

While this would traditionally be seen as a reason to celebrate our country and showcase patriotism, many Americans have expressed outrage toward the women’s team. Why isn’t America excited to win the Women’s World Cup?

The US women’s soccer team started the tournament off with a deafening bang, completely demolishing Thailand’s team 13 to zero.

In this single match, the U.S. team broke two monumental records: the first, the record for the most goals scored by a team during one match for both the men’s and women’s World Cups; the second, the largest margin between scores in World Cup history.

Three goals were scored in the first half and 10 in the second. The key player during the match was Alex Morgan, who scored five out of the 13 goals. This number ties her with the previous World Cup record of the most goals made by a single player during a match. On top of this incredible feat, Morgan also made three assists on the field.

The second and third matches the U.S. team played in the tournament went just as smoothly as the first. After their record-breaking victory against Thailand, they went on to play Chile and Sweden. The U.S. team won both matches, scoring three and two goals consecutively while their opponents both scored zero.

This led the U.S. team to break another World Cup record with three “clean sheets” — matches where the opponent scores no points — in a row. With the U.S. team the victor of their group, they were set to move on to the round of 16, the first match in the bracket.

The U.S. team’s next opponent was Spain, a team notorious for their skill, determination and experience. The match left a very different taste in the American players’ mouths as they struggled to defeat their worthy Spanish opponents. Even the U.S. coach, Jill Ellis, admitted that their win required “a lot of grit, a lot of resolve” from her players.

While the match was a difficult one, the U.S. team persevered. After a game surrounded by so much speculation, it was only natural that it would be thoroughly covered by the press.

The day after the Spain match, the U.S. Team’s co-captain Megan Rapinoe made waves in the White House after an interview with Eight by Eight, who released it on their Twitter page. In the interview, Rapinoe was asked, “Are you excited about going to the White House?” Her response: “I’m not going to the f—king White House.”

After four consecutive wins and several broken records on the field, this political question seemed like the last thing Rapinoe wanted to be asked about. The 39 second clip also details her views on the team’s high expectations and their drive to win, still getting across her message about the rewards of teamwork. Unfortunately, her response to the reporter’s question was still the highlight of the interview.

As can be expected, this interview went viral, receiving more than 12.3 million views since it was posted. President Donald Trump wasted no time responding, tweeting, “Megan should WIN first before she TALKS!”

This tweet sparked rage towards the Rapinoe, who has stood by her statement. In a press conference held a few days after the interview, Rapinoe said she would not have changed a word “with the exception of the expletive. My mom would be very upset about that.”

The U.S. soccer team was unfazed by the controversy, keeping focused on the tournament and the quarterfinal match against France and eventually the semifinal against England.

This quarterfinal was one of the most anticipated in World Cup history. Rapinoe scored both points made by the U.S. team, with Ellis claiming, “That is the most intense match I have ever been a part of.” The semifinal followed a similar narrative to the U.S. team’s two previous matches. The U.S. victory over England proved both challenging and rewarding when the team advanced to the finals for a second year in a row.

In the final match of the World Cup, the U.S. team faced the Netherlands. The doubts of whether the U.S. team could hold together their winning streak was demolished along with the Netherlands’ hopes of winning the 2019 Women’s World Cup. The U.S. team was led to victory once again by Rapinoe, who scored the first goal, and Rose Lavell, who scored the winning point.

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The U.S. women’s soccer team became for the fourth time a FIFA Women’s World Cup champion and also the second team in World Cup history to become the reigning champions for the second year in a row. The winning team also set yet another record, scoring the most goals of any team, with 26 points to boast of going into the next year.

Most notably, three U.S. players were awarded four World Cup titles. Rose Lavelle received the Bronze Ball for her second goal in the final match. Alex Morgan earned the Silver Boot with six goals and three assists made over the duration of the tournament. And of course, Megan Rapinoe won both the Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player and the Golden Boot for scoring the most goals with the least amount of field time.

After the U.S. women’s soccer team’s historical victory, Rapinoe appeared in a CNN interview with Anderson Cooper. In the interview, she gave a recap of the team’s triumph and an update on her position on the White House invitation. “I would not go, and every teammate that I’ve talked to explicitly about it would not go,” revealed Rapinoe. “I don’t think anyone on the team has any interest in lending the platform that we’ve worked so hard to build,” she said of the current administration. “There are so many other people that I would rather talk to and have meaningful conversations that could really affect change in Washington than going to the White House.”

In our current social and political climate, it’s important for people to speak openly about their beliefs. This is the reason why our freedom of speech is so valuable; if no one speaks out, how will we know we are not alone in the way we feel about our society? But with this freedom comes the responsibility of finding the balance between expressing opinions and values.

It seems that the U.S. women’s soccer team has found this balance perfectly. Megan Rapinoe is ready to express her opinion about the current administration but offers her own view of what it means to be a winner and a team player. Her teammates are quick to stand behind her, but not without addressing what they would like to see be done differently.

The 2019 Women’s World Cup is certainly a historic one, showing that women and athletes have the power to create their own social and political platforms.

Rapinoe has since confirmed that, while the U.S. women’s soccer team was invited to appear at Congress, they have yet to be invited to the White House.

The full 2019 Women’s World Cup bracket and groups can be found here.

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