Former US President Donald Trump has panned his own country’s Olympic football team after its bronze medal win over Australia on Thursday.
The US Women’s National Team came into the Olympics as the reigning world champions and gold medal favorites before suffering a surprise defeat to Canada.
But the Americans at least ended on a positive note (unfortunately, from our perspective), beating Australia 4-3 in a pulsating match to claim third place.
“It feels like we really had to earn that thing. And we’re very proud of it,” the team’s captain, Becky Sauerbrunn, said of the bronze medal.
“Obviously, we wanted to get a gold medal. Everyone wants to get a gold medal; Americans love golds. The fact is we potentially didn’t deserve to get a gold.”
Mr. Trump offered a less charitable assessment of the result, releasing a statement blaming “wokeness” for the team’s failure to win gold.
“If our soccer team, headed by a radical group of leftist maniacs, wasn’t woke, they would have won the gold medal instead of the bronze,” the former president said. “Woke means you lose, everything that wakes goes terrible, and our soccer team certainly has.
“There were. However, a few patriots standing. Unfortunately, they need more than that respecting our country and national anthem. They should replace the jokesters with patriots and start winning again.
“The woman with the purple hair played terribly and spends too much time thinking about radical left politics and not doing her job!”
The “woman with the purple hair” is Megan Rapinoe, who actually scored two spectacular goals in the bronze medal match – one a sumptuous volley, the other a rare “Olimpico”, in which she scored directly from a corner kick. One can only assume Mr. Trump did not watch the game before pontificating on it.
Incidentally, Rapinoe won the Ballon d’Or for being the world’s best player in 2019, when she was just as politically active as she is now.
Mr. Trump’s assertion that only “a few patriots” stood for the national anthem is a little baffling as well. Every US player has stood for the anthem at every match in Tokyo. The team announced it would stop kneeling all the way back in February.
Rapinoe started to kneel during the anthem in 2016 in solidarity with NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who began the practice to protest against racial injustice. When other NFL players followed suit, Mr. Trump said they should be fired.
Some misinformation spread online after the Americans’ first match in Tokyo, against Sweden, with some claiming players knelt during the anthem on social media.
That was not the case. Both teams and the referee knelt for 10 seconds before kick-off in a collective protest against discrimination and racial inequality. Perhaps that is what Mr. Trump was thinking of.
The Republican politician has carried something of a grudge against the US women’s team for years now. To be fair, the players don’t like him much either.
The team declined an invitation to meet him at the White House after winning the 2019 World Cup. Rapinoe famously said, and I quote: “I’m not going to the f***ing White House.”
Multiple players have taken stands on social issues in recent years, but Rapinoe is the most politically active, and therefore the one who cops the most criticism.
In 2016, after kneeling in solidarity with Kaepernick, she explained her stance. “I think it’s actually pretty disgusting, the way he was treated,” Rapinoe said.
“Being a gay American, I know what it means to look at the flag and not have it protect all your liberties. It was something small that I could do, and something that I plan to keep doing in the future, and hopefully spark some meaningful conversation.”
She publicly endorsed Elizabeth Warren during the Democratic presidential primaries in 2019 and 2020. Subsequently, She appeared at the Democratic National Convention to support Joe Biden, who beat Mr. Trump in the general election.
Mr. Trump has consistently criticized athletes for wading into politics, having a go at the NFL, Major League Baseball, and the NBA. He recently slammed the Cleveland Indians, a baseball franchise, for changing its name to the Cleveland Guardians.
The move to a less racially insensitive name came a year after the Washington Redskins became the Washington Football Team (Mr. Trump criticized that decision).
“The new name will be the Cleveland Guardians, which is terrible,” the former president told his supporters at a rally in late July.
“If I were an Indian, I’d sue. Sue them. I mean, what could be better? Especially if you have a good team. The Cleveland Indians it’s one of the greatest names. One of the most amazing logos. People love it. “They want to take away our history, our heritage, our culture, and everything that holds us together.”
In the same speech, he also mentioned the Olympic football team’s defeat to Sweden in its first game, which ended a 44-match unbeaten streak. Mr. Trump said Americans were “happy” about the loss.
The crowd responded by cheering. Mr. Trump has often boasted of his own sporting prowess. He claims to have won 18 golf club championships and has said he could have been a professional baseball player.