07 July 2019 at 19:15
It’s a fourth Women’s World Cup win for the USA, who have drawn plenty of interest, plenty of criticism – but are never boring.
The USA’s 2-0 win over the Netherlands was perhaps closer than might have been expected.
The Americans were the heavy favourites; the Dutch were in their first World Cup final, in only their second World Cup. The Americans had scored in the first 12 minutes of all their previous matches in the tournament, and the Dutch shut them out until the hour mark. After Megan Rapinoe converted her penalty then, the result seemed pretty much assured.
The USA were deserved champions, but their performances and behaviour over the last month have drawn plenty of comment – not all of it positive.
For starters, their goal celebrations had elicited much comment; Rapinoe’s arms-akimbo stance had been described as « arrogant ». Former England striker Lianne Sanderson described the semi-final tea-sipping as « distasteful »; culprit Alex Morgan denied that it had been a dig at stereotypes of the English population, and Game of Thrones actress Sophie Turner was enlisted to provide some kind of explanation as to the thinking behind the celebration (something to do with her own Instagram account).
Many column inches have been expended in the last few weeks as to the unlikeability of the USA team, and Morgan once again taking some of the criticism as observers wondered if she went to ground a little too easily; Lindsey Horan was unpleasantly rowdy in the background after England captain Steph Houghton tried to give a media interview after the semi-final; the pre-prepared « Champions » shirts to wear on the podium, and Rapinoe and Morgan’s failure to congratulate Sari van Veenendaal as she picked up her Golden Glove award, were also not good to watch.
American fans, meanwhile, seem entirely nonplussed by the accusation. They have been suggesting that if the team won less, they would be more popular with other fans – which perhaps goes some way to explaining the very American mindset that the rest of the world are less comfortable with. They themselves cannot contemplate fondness for a team that loses.
So as long as the USA team wins, they will be loved at home; but for the fans elsewhere in the world, who can’t celebrate the victories as their own, they seek for other things to like about them. With an often less than enthralling style of play, and few endearing personalities on the team, it has been a struggle. That is not to say that these are not fine athletes, and fine people; Rapinoe’s vocal political stances in particular have been impressive. There is plenty to admire in that squad – it’s just that there is quite a lot less to like for the casual, non-American observer.
Then again, it is not the USA’s job to be liked. It’s their job to be the best professional national side in the world, and with that fourth star on their shirt, they have once more achieved it.