United States' scorer Lindsey Horan, right, celebrates their side's 3rd goal with Megan Rapinoe during the Women's World Cup Group F soccer match between United States and Thailand at the Stade Auguste-Delaune in Reims, France, Tuesday, June 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
soccer

U.S. catches heat for Women's World Cup goal celebrations

25 Comments
By ANNE M. PETERSON

The goals were one thing, the celebrations another.

The U.S. women's national team faced criticism following its record-breaking 13-0 rout of Thailand on Tuesday night. The win set a World Cup record for goals and margin of victory. Alex Morgan alone had five goals, matching the most in one game in tournament history.

But there were questions about whether the Americans should have celebrated goals once the game was well in hand. Were the three-time World Cup champions being unsportsmanlike, or merely sending a message to the rest of the field?

Alex Morgan was asked afterward about the display of hugs, high-fives, and posturing for the many American fans at Stade Auguste-Delaune.

"I think in the moment, every time we score a goal in a World Cup — you've dreamt of it. I dreamt of it since I was a little girl," she said. "You know, winning a World Cup and being back there for the third time, we want that fourth star. So tonight we knew that any goal could matter in this group-stage game. And when it comes to celebrations, I think this was a really good team performance and I think it was important for us to celebrate together."

Those celebrations drew ire on social media, some of it directed at veteran Megan Rapinoe for twirling and turf-sliding after her goal — which made it 9-0. A World Cup-record seven U.S. players scored in the game.

Morgan was rebuked for holding up four fingers after her fourth goal, which made it 10-0.

"A lot of this is about building momentum and so as a coach I don't find it my job to rein my players in," coach Jill Ellis said. "This is what they've dreamt about. This is for them. This is a world championship"

Rapinoe, interviewed on FOX Sports on Wednesday, also addressed the criticism.

"If anyone wants to come at our team for not doing the right thing, not playing the right way, not being a good ambassador, they can come at us. It was an explosion of joy," she said. "If our crime is joy, then we will take that."

Rapinoe pointed to the team's young players who scored their first World Cup goals and said they had every right to celebrate, including Samantha Mewis, Rose Lavelle, Mallory Pugh and Lindsey Horan.

In a postgame show of sportsmanship, the U.S. team also consoled some of the emotional Thai players. Morgan offered encouragement to forward Miranda Nild, who like Morgan played college soccer at Cal.

Thailand's players were disappointed, but they have also been on the other end of blowouts. Thailand won a friendly over Indonesia 13-0 last year, and beat Cambodia 11-0 in the group stage of the AFF Women's Championship.

"In football games, everybody is following the rules, and everyone is trying their best," Thailand coach Nuengrutai Srathongvian said. "We have to accept that, this team is very good. We don't have any excuse, except they are better."

Celebrating and piling on the goals are really two different issues.

At the World Cup, goal differential becomes important in deciding tie-breakers for the knockout stage. The U.S. team is in a group with nemesis Sweden, as well as Thailand and Chile.

It was understood that the top-ranked Americans would likely trounce Thailand, ranked 34th in the world, and possibly No. 39 Chile, which is making its World Cup debut. The game with Chile is set for Sunday in Paris.

The United States faces Sweden in the final game of the group stage next week. It is their first meeting since the Swedes ousted the Americans from the 2016 Olympics in the quarterfinals — the team's earliest exit ever. Sweden bunkered on defense and afterward then-U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo called the team cowards.

Currently ranked No. 9, Sweden defeated Chile 2-0 in Rennes on Tuesday night and will play Thailand in Nice on Sunday.

The United States did have its defenders, including a familiar one.

"For all that have issue with many goals: for some players this is their first World Cup goal, and they should be excited," former U.S. teammate Abby Wambach tweeted . "Imagine it being you out there. This is your dream of playing and then scoring in a World Cup. Celebrate. Would you tell a men's team to not score or celebrate?"

© Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.


25 Comments
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If you can say the US women shouldn't have celebrated after having the game "well in-hand", then you could easily claim why didn't officials just call the game to put an end to the defeatist feeling hovering over the Thai ladies. Let the girls play (and celebrate).

0 ( +7 / -7 )

Of course they caught heat for celebrating. They'd likely have caught heat by the twitter-morons for NOT celebrating.

"Imagine it being you out there. This is your dream of playing and then scoring in a World Cup. Celebrate. Would you tell a men's team to not score or celebrate?"

Oh, you lost it at the end there with that idiotic last question. No. Men are likely to take it upon themselves to mute celebrations. Not saying they should, but they have. Here's a rather famous example, from wikipedia.

In the 2014 World Cup semi-final, it was noted by several commentators during the match that the German players toned down their celebrations as the goals piled up against host nations Brazil. Mats Hummelsconfirmed that this was deliberate on the part of the German players out of a desire not to humiliate the Brazilians unnecessarily.[130]

6 ( +8 / -2 )

@RiskyMosaic

Even after the 2014 semi-final I remember reading an article about how by muting their celebrations, the Germans were "patronizing" the Brazilians, adding further humiliation. I think you're damned if you do, damned if you don't.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Even after the 2014 semi-final I remember reading an article about how by muting their celebrations, the Germans were "patronizing" the Brazilians, adding further humiliation. I think you're damned if you do, damned if you don't.

A minority opinion. The vast majority of players and supporters would regard the celebrations like we saw when you are slaughtering a side as unprofessional.

Woukd you tell a men’s team not to score or celebrate?

I’d never tell a side not to score. I would tell a side, male or female, to show respect and professionalism to another side. Gender has nothing to do with it.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

I’d never tell a side not to score

I should have added ‘in a group stage’. In the knockout stage, I would tell my team to take their foot off the pedal out of respect for the team getting humiliated and to avoid injuries.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Would you tell a men's team to not score or celebrate?"

This seems to be the fall-back defense when you have no real answer.

@shipwrecker

That “patronizing” argument never got any traction. It was just put out there for the same reason as the above. Patronizing would be to stop scoring, and in neither case has any reasonable person recommended doing that.

Still, that was Germany vs Brazil, two powerhouses. Nobody could have predicted such a lopsided result. One could argue that the expectation for Germany to blowout Brazil to such an extent would cause such surprise in the Germans that they could be forgiven for celebrating. On the other hand who in their right mind did not expect a US blowout of Thailand. The US has appeared in the last 3 finals, and is a perennial favorite. Thailand? Not even close. This is what makes the American celebrations more questionable.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Jimizo

I think it is patronising. When my rugby sevens team were beaten 67-5 by the school down the road we felt bad enough, but what really made us feel useless was that they (probably out of ideas) stopped celebrating their tries at about 40-0. Obviously it wasn't a world cup, but the one spectator and his dog felt bad for us, too.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

(my kingdom for an edit function)

In a postgame show of sportsmanship, the U.S. team also consoled some of the emotional Thai players. Morgan offered encouragement to forward Miranda Nild, who like Morgan played college soccer at Cal.

I hope there was an equal amount of praise on twitter for that.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@RiskyMosaic

I think sourpuss dealt with the ‘patronising’ angle. This is a minority view in football at least. I think you should go with the convention of not celebrating in that way at that time rather than going with your personal opinion on the convention.

It’s like disagreeing with shaking hands with the opposing team before the match. Some players disagree with this and think the niceties should be left for after the contest, but you still do it out of respect.

It’s the done thing.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

On the other hand who in their right mind did not expect a US blowout of Thailand. The US has appeared in the last 3 finals, and is a perennial favorite. Thailand? Not even close. This is what makes the American celebrations more questionable.

Exactly the way i see it too. N1 vs minnows games are different, wc or not. No need to rub it in; celebrate the first 4-5 goals the way you want then tone it down (no silly dance, over-enthusiastic high five etc)

Derbies & rivalries are a different story though.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I get the arguments, and I get that I'm in the minority here. My rugby anecdote was an attempt to inject some levity, but here it is. If you tone down your celebrations out of pity for your opponent then you are being patronising. As Hot Bobby said, you may as well have the referee just call the match if that is the prevailing attitude. If you console and encourage your opponent after inflicting a heavy loss, then you are showing sportspersonship.

Pre-planned and choreographed celebrations, at any stage of the game (as some people thought the celebrations here may have been - I didn't actually see the match) are just lame and stupid. In any sport.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

No class

2 ( +5 / -3 )

If they walked up to the Thai team after the game and started bragging, I'd have a bit of a problem with that. But I see no problem with them being happy about getting goals.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Wonder if the same type of criticism would be made if it was a different team?

0 ( +3 / -3 )

But I see no problem with them being happy about getting goals.

Nobody is complaining about that. The problem is the cluelessness of celebrating (which is not the same as being happy) on your 10th goal against Thailand. If you get to 9-0 with 15 minutes to go and you're not expecting another another 2 or 3 on your part, you haven't been paying attention. High fives are fine. Smiles too. But seriously, hugs and screams?

Wonder if the same type of criticism would be made if it was a different team?

Who knows? It's just common sense and sportsmanship. Do you celebrate a 1-0 goal the same as a 13-0 one? If so, there's something wrong.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

For me, it is a matter of logic more than a matter of etiquette.

You celebrate hard if you score the first goal to break a 0-0 deadlock as you have achieved something difficult and challenging. The celebration is a release of the tension resulting from the close game, and the recognition that you have done something worth celebrating by using your superior sporting skills to take the lead against the opposition.

If you have already scored 10 times, then surely you have already logically established that scoring against that opponent at that particular point in time is not that difficult or challenging, and does not require such an advanced level of sporting skill.

So while t is difficult to decide the issue of whether it is worse, from the opponent's point of view, to keep celebrating or more patronizing to stop celebrating (when you are being hammered it is a horrible experience, so either way it will be bad for you), if we consider the issue solely from point of view of the goal scorers themselves and leave out the etiquette question, it seems clear that celebrating goal number 13 in exactly the same way as goal number one, complete with screams and shouts, suggests you think that the 13th goal is just as skillful/difficult/challenging/valuable as the first goal, and since this is obviously not the case you just end up, man or woman, appearing as if you misunderstand the essence of sporting competition and looking utterly ridiculous.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

You expect an athlete who just scored their first ever World Cup goal to dial back their celebration? Get real! The expectation for athletes to refrain from expressing their joy as naturally as it comes when they win, score, etc. is idiotic.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

You expect an athlete who just scored their first ever World Cup goal to dial back their celebration? Get real! The expectation for athletes to refrain from expressing their joy as naturally as it comes when they win, score, etc. is idiotic.

Only someone who doesn’t understand the conventions of football would post that.

You clearly don’t understand the game.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

> You expect an athlete who just scored their first ever World Cup goal to dial back their celebration?

I would not expect a dialed back celebration from a first time scorer, but for players like Rapinoe, who has scored World Cup goals before, to behave with some sense of decorum. That whole slide with her leg in the air . . . . WTF?

A common defense of the USWNT is that "a man would not be told to score fewer goals, celebrate less, etc." For one thing no one has a problem with the scoring of goals. That is what you do, especially in group. Of course no one expects the US to not make it out of group. I do not have a problem with a first time scorer celebrating their achievment. The problem that so many have is with the veteran players celebrating to such a degree over a team that is composed of part time insurance workers. Were the Thai ladies full time players like the US then this whole thing might not be as much of an issue. However, carrying on like they did against a team that is clearly not at their level is just uncouth.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Jimizo

Only someone who doesn’t understand the conventions of football would post that.

You clearly don’t understand the game.

Sure sure. Care to diagram that logical fallacy for us? Only someone who believes only Brits who happened to be born near a football club should have any opinions about the sport would say something that snooty.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

when the USA women’s team are winning, they’re over the top with their celebrations, regardless of the opposition.

when they are losing, they are renowned dummy-spitters & cry babies.

Hopefully Somebody will beat them & send them packing.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Sure sure. Care to diagram that logical fallacy for us? Only someone who believes only Brits who happened to be born near a football club should have any opinions about the sport would say something that snooty

I’m just saying that your idea of what ‘athletes’ should do didn’t address what the conventions of football ( soccer ) in particular are. Maybe the ‘athletes’ in sports you are more familiar with don’t have the same conventions.

Nothing snooty. Just pointing out what I see as the obvious which is you don’t seem to be familiar with the conventions of football ( soccer ). There is no reason you should be. I’m not familiar with the sports you were brought up with.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

when they are losing, they are renowned dummy-spitters & cry babies.

Exactly. And they try to rationalize this behavior too.

Just pointing out what I see as the obvious which is you don’t seem to be familiar with the conventions of football

Uhh, you do realize that football (soccer) players are some of the most criticized athletes for their bad behavior in the world. Far worse than any other sport. These may be the conventions of the sport, but they still deserve to be criticized.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Uhh, you do realize that football (soccer) players are some of the most criticized athletes for their bad behavior in the world.

Uhh, yes.

Simulation gets criticised. Trying to get players sent off is criticised. Racially abusing players gets criticised. Celebrating the later goals like the US women did deserves to be criticised.

Could you tell me what your point is?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Simulation?

Blatant cheating, by any other name.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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