They ran across the field screaming, hugging their teammates, sometimes spinning around and even sliding on the turf. The cheerful celebrations went on and on and on… 13 times.
The U.S. women’s national team showed no mercy for Thailand in its record-breaking 13-0 World Cup win Tuesday, but critics found the continuous display of celebration — even after the score went into the double digits — unnecessary and rude.
“For me, it’s disrespectful. It’s disgraceful,” former Canadian soccer player Kaylyn Kyle said during a TSN show.
TSN radio host Jim Toth echoed those thoughts on Twitter, saying he was “disgusted” by the celebrations after the eighth goal.
“All due respect, it’s not the number of goals it’s the classless fashion in which they are celebrated,” he tweeted at U.S. soccer legend Abby Wambach, an Olympic gold medalist and FIFA Woman’s World Cup champion.
Wambach suggested the backlash was a sexist reaction that would not happen against a men’s team.
“For all that have issue with many goals: for some players this is there first World Cup goal, and they should be excited,” she wrote on Twitter. “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?”
Tuesday’s wild victory at the Stade Auguste-Delaune in France marked the most goals ever scored by the Americans in a World Cup match and the largest winning margin in the tournament’s history. The women’s team scored more goals in the game than their male counterparts have scored in all of its three World Cup appearances since 2006.
Scoring as many goals as possible, even after a victory was clear, is important because goal difference is one of the tie-breaking criteria in the tournament’s group stage. Head coach Jill Ellis said her No. 1-ranked team actually showed respect to Thailand, the 34th-ranked team in the world, by not pulling back.
“This is a world championship, so every team that’s here has been fantastic to get to this point,” she told reporters at a post-game news conference. “And I think to be respectful to opponents is to play hard against opponents.”
Ellis also noted that many of the players have been training for years.
“As a coach,” she said, “I don’t find it my job to go and harness my players and reign them in because this is what they dreamed about it. This is it for them.”
But TV cameras showed emotional Thailand fans and players stunned at the shocking margin. One of the most criticized celebrations was Megan Rapinoe’s explosive reaction after the ninth goal, which some people said seemed like “rubbing salt in the wounds.”
“0.0 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,” ESPN analyst Taylor Twellman wrote on Twitter. “Curious to see if anyone apologizes for this postgame.”
Players did not apologize. Alex Morgan, who scored a whopping five goals, told reporters Tuesday she’s been dreaming about playing in the World Cup since she was a little girl.