The US Women’s National Soccer team has caused quite the stir with its celebrations at the Women’s World Cup, and Alex Morgan became the latest to milk a goal in Lyon on Tuesday.
The USWNT’s players received plenty of flack for exuberantly celebrating during their 13-0 thrashing of Thailand, and Morgan’s tea-drinking mime has further divided opinion.
On the occasion of her 30th birthday, Morgan was seemingly quick to reference the famous British tradition — raising her fingers to her mouth — after she scored the winner in the USWNT’s 2-1 victory over England, a game which saw the Americans reach their third straight World Cup final.
Approximately 100 million cups of tea are drunk by the British each day– almost 36 billion per year — according to the UK Tea and Infusions Association.
However, Morgan said after the game that the celebration was a response to the criticism her team has received during the tournament. Prior to Tuesday’s clash, England coach Phil Neville had questioned the “etiquette” of the American team after officials visited his team’s hotel.
“I wanted to keep it interesting,” she told reporters. “I know Megan Rapinoe has the best celebration. I had to try and step up this game. I feel like this team has had so much thrown at them and us. I feel like we didn’t take an easy route through this tournament and ‘that’s the tea.'”
The celebration was lapped up by some, notably Hillary Clinton: “Congrats to the #USWNT for earning that tea,” the 2016 Presidential candidate tweeted.
It further emboldened Morgan’s status as a national treasure back home in the US. The forward has now bagged six goals this tournament and remains in pole position to win the golden boot alongside England’s Ellen White, who trails Morgan on assists.
There was some debate, however, as to what exactly the celebration referred to.
Many agreed that it was a jibe at England’s love for a cuppa, but some saw it as a nod to the Boston Tea Party of 1773 — the political protests against high taxes on tea that were staged before the American Revolution.
Some failed to properly identify the tea-sipping taunt, comparing it instead to a drag on a cigarette. British comedian Jack Whitehall was quick to comment in this regard.
Morgan’s celebration proved not to be everyone’s cup of tea.
“You can celebrate however you want, but that for me is a bit distasteful,” said English footballer Lianne Sanderson, working as a pundit on beIN Sports. “I’m a big believer in the Americans and how they celebrate but for me this was a little bit disrespectful.”
TV presenter Piers Morgan urged the Lionesses to make the US “choke” on their beverage, prompting others to shoot back with taunts about the shared surname between tweeter and goalscorer.
There were retorts about America’s taste in lager, too.
What’s not in doubt is that Morgan’s toast certainly struck a nerve. And you can bet there were plenty of kettles being boiled in the UK with 11.7 million tuning in to the semifinal clash, according to the BBC — the highest TV audience of 2019.
The USA will face either Netherlands or Sweden in Sunday’s final, while England will meet the loser to contest for third place.
As the World Cup reaches boiling point, there’s still plenty more drama brewing.