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The 2015 World Cup winning U.S. women's soccer team at a ticker tape parade in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/WireImage)

Dispute

Why a record-breaking win by the U.S. women’s soccer team at the World Cup sparked debate

By WITW Staff on June 13, 2019

The U.S. women’s soccer team blitzed through a Women’s World Cup game on Tuesday, defeating Thailand 13-0 — the largest victory margin scored by any World Cup team, women’s or men’s. But as The New York Times reports, some have criticized the champions for taking their post-goal celebrations too far. And others have criticized the critics.

The U.S. held the ball for 75 percent of the game and made 39 attempts on goal, compared to Thailand’s two. Each successful goal was greeted with a giddy response by the team, which rankled some spectators.

Kaylyn Kyle, a Canadian former soccer player and analyst for Canadian sports network TSN, called the Americans’ behavior “disgraceful” and disrespectful.” Clare Rustad, who played for the Canadian national team, echoed the sentiment. “This was disgraceful for the United States,” she said, per the Times.

Others begged to differ. An editorial in The Guardian argued that even when women win 13-0, they can never win. Writer Arwa Mahdawi noted that much of the criticism came from male sports commentators. “There is something infuriating about a bunch of male commentators telling the world’s best women’s soccer team: ‘Tone it down, ladies!’ It smacks of sexism,” she wrote.

Some pointed out that each goal matters in the World Cup. The “top two teams from each group advance, and scoring differential could be the determining factor between seeding and, ultimately, advancing,” USA Today explains.

U.S. player Julie Ertz stressed that her team was not trying to disrespect the opponents by pummeling them with goals — the opposite, in fact. “The way we respect our opponent is we don’t take it lightly,” Ertz said, according to the Guardian. “We take any opponent we have very seriously. We prepare the same way. We have our scouting reports. We train with intensity. And that’s how we show we’re not going to take any opponent lightly.”

The Americans trounced the previous record for a World Cup victory margin, held by Germany, which beat Argentina 11-0 in 2007.

The U.S. women’s team is ranked number one in the world, and has entered the 2019 World Cup with three championship titles. Yet female soccer players in the U.S. are paid considerably less than their male counterparts — a frustrating reality that has prompted members of the national women’s team to file a discrimination suit against the U.S. Soccer Federation.

Read more at the New York Times.

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