The USWNT scored 13 times against Thailand.
Morgan 12′, 53′, 74′, 81′, 87′ Lavelle 20′, 56′ Horan 32′ Mewis 50′, 54′ Rapinoe 79′ Pugh 85′ Lloyd 90+2′
And after each goal the US celebrated. Sometimes with the bench and sometimes just the players on the field. For Lavelle, Horan, Mewis, and Pugh it was their first World Cup game. Scoring then is an incredible accomplishment. For Morgan, she now shares a record with Michelle Akers for most goals scored in a Women’s World Cup game. For Rapinoe and Lloyd, it was a good day at the office.
And it felt bad. I felt bad. Watching it left me with a bitter taste in my mouth and a slightly uneasy feeling as I heard the chants of USA from the stands. It took me a while to get my feelings in order. I went from “The US players should be pumped” to “maybe they should have taken their foot off the gas” to “score all the goals always” and around and around.
I finally settled on my feelings and how I see this game. And in those thoughts a few things are true. None of them are the fault of the players.
1) The US players have every right to celebrate after scoring goals.
2) Thailand earned their trip to the World Cup but are overall a pretty poor squad
3) The bulk of the feeling of grossness steams from FIFA.
I don’t blame Sam Mewis for being ecstatic over scoring a brace in her first game playing in a World Cup. I don’t think Morgan was over the line even counting the goals she scored after her fourth. And honestly, I will always be down for Rapinoe twirling and then sliding after she scores.
But at some point the joy of seeing all that turned bitter. Not really because of the US players but because of the context.
Thailand is a team without a great deal of institutionalized support behind them. And while their players have been on both ends of 13-0 wins, (Thailand beat Indonesia 13-0 in a friendly in 2018) I can’t help but wish more money, more training, and more resources were going to this team as they headed toward these games.
But really, at the end of the day, this lays at FIFA’s doorstep. FIFA has roughly more money than Gringotts Wizarding Bank has Goblins. By not giving support to the federations for the women’s teams and not demanding that federations use that money, or for the larger federations their own, they are enabling results like this.
FIFA could have prevented this but they are too worried about running studies and having their partners run ads for the next generation of players.
The worst part of this game was many of us, myself included, had the first reaction of blaming players for being happy that they did an incredibly hard thing well and scored a goal or goals in a World Cup game. That is the biggest loss in this match. That FIFA has to pit these, one against the other, while we often spare them our wrath.
FIFA has about $2,700,000,000 in their reserves. They could give every country on earth, all 195 of them, $10,000,000 and send a team to make sure the money went to the women’s teams and not into pockets of the perpetrators of the current oppression and they would still have a half billion dollars left in their reserves.
FIFA could change 13-0 games. They could. They chose not to. Remember that.