Did you hear how the US women’s national team plunged to scandalous depths this week? The most successful outfit in the history of women’s soccer disgraced the nation by…celebrating the goals they scored in the opening game of the Women’s World Cup.
A 13-0 victory against tournament minnows Thailand is hardly the most captivating way to suck the Twittersphere into caring about one of America’s best teams: of course a closer game would make for a more exciting watch. So the broadcasters and American media plumped for a different approach to stirring up interest: by fabricating a controversy.
‘Zero problem with the score line as this is THE tournament BUT celebrating goals (like #9) leaves a sour taste in my mouth like many of you. Curious to see if anyone apologizes for this postgame,’ tweeted co-commentator Taylor Twellman, a man whose international career peaked with a 2007 Gold Cup goal against the indefatigable El Salvador.
Former US goalkeeper Hope Solo said, ‘I still think we can still celebrate those goals and the fans can enjoy the game without having the choreographed celebrations.’
Rob Stone, host of Fox Sports’s perplexing soccer coverage, joined the pile-on.
‘This got humiliating at some point. It just became an exercise in target practice,’ he said. ‘You know what I wanted to do? Pull it back, knock it around.’
Is a sexist double standard being applied? Can we find people tweeting that it might be? If you’re a hotshot reporter desperate for Google to squeegee some search traffic onto your chapped lips, that’s good enough: ‘Critics are slamming the US Women’s National Soccer Team,’ announced Business Insider. ‘US Women’s Soccer Team Criticized for Celebrating Huge Sweep’ declared People. The pièce de résistance from the Mail Online: ‘“It’s important for us to celebrate together”: US women’s soccer team defends “disgusting” celebrations during 13-0 World Cup thrashing of Thailand saying “it’s disrespectful if we don’t show up and give our best” after leaving their opposition in tears.’ I ask you: what could be more heartbreaking than earning the ire of ‘critics’? How could you possibly recover from the devastating burden of so much attention?
In learning to love soccer, America has been behind the pace of the rest of the world. This so-called ‘outrage’ shows how far the media here has to go in order to develop a true sense of perspective.
You don’t have to go far to find genuine scandal in the world of football. Last week, a heartbreaking video showing England legend Paul Gascoigne begging for cocaine went viral, offering the bleakest possible insight into life after the game. In Turkey, a Kurdish club are embroiled in a spat with league authorities amid allegations their captain attempted to covertly slash opponents with a razor blade. The immigrant worker death toll in Qatar, whose state-owned airline is sponsoring Fox Sports’s Women’s World Cup coverage and where the next men’s tournament is due to be played, is a labor rights crisis.
But please tell me more about how the USWNT’s show of team spirit is the most noteworthy story in soccer.