Would You Celebrate If You Won a Soccer Game 13-0?

Yesterday the US women’s national soccer team won their World Cup opener against Thailand 13-0. It was the highest goal differential in World Cup history.

I love the USWNT, and I have no problem with them running up the score in a tournament where goal differential matters. But I paused when I heard there was some criticism about how they continued to ecstatically celebrate after every goal. It seemed a little odd at first, perhaps unsportsmanlike.

But then I watched two segments that mostly changed my mind.

The first was on The Daily Show (and then confirmed in the video below). The USWNT is paid substantially less than the US men’s team despite being significantly more successful. In fact, the 13 goals they scored yesterday are more than all of the goals the men’s team has scored combined over their last 3 World Cup appearances.

The USWNT is acutely aware of the disparity in pay, and I think the thrill and release of competing at such an elite level against Thailand at least partially resulted in their celebrations.

In the video below, Alex Morgan mentions another reason: They were genuinely having a good time with each other on the field. It was a celebration of chemistry.

They even brought the celebrations off the field to the bench. I’ve never thought about that, but that’s one of the ways bench players support the team and feel like they’re part of the team–imagine what a downer it would be if the players on the field didn’t acknowledge the bench and if the bench just sat silently while their teammates scored.

Oh, and last, this is the first World Cup for a number of players. Wouldn’t you be excited if you scored or helped someone score in your first World Cup (or your second or third)? And wouldn’t you celebrate if you were teammates with someone who scored in their first World Cup?

So yeah, on the level of sportsmanship, I can see how some people might be a little critical of celebrations continuing after the third goal. But on a human level, I get it, and I’m celebrating with them.

What do you think? If you scored the 13th goal of a 12-0 World Cup game, would you celebrate?

6 thoughts on “Would You Celebrate If You Won a Soccer Game 13-0?”

  1. About the wage gap thing, (which sort of feels out of place in the discussion at hand) do they make less money because women’s soccer doesn’t make as much as a whole (from ads, sponsorships, merch,etc.) And therefore cannot pay the athletes as much? Or is it actually discrimination?

    • Josh: I don’t know all of the details, though my sense is (a) you’re right that men’s soccer is more profitable than women’s soccer but (b) that’s largely unrelated to salaries, which are paid by the US soccer federation, not a private club.

  2. There is no shame in celebrating if you score a goal in the World Cup, the most prestigious tournament in all of soccer. Imagine being at the pinnacle of your craft, doing something you’ve practiced your entire life for, and nailing it perfectly. Are you not elated? How do you not celebrate?

    I can understand if some say they personally would not celebrate, but it makes me upset to hear criticism of another’s decision to celebrate one of (if not the) greatest achievements in her life.

    I don’t passionately choose sides on a lot of topics on this blog or otherwise; I tend to seek to understand the perspective of others without intent to shift that perspective. On this one, however, I’m sad that media criticism is obscuring record-setting achievements and distracting the focus of those representing our country from more important aspects of the tournament at hand.

    • Well said, Trev. I like the idea of how a commentor could reasonably say, “I personally wouldn’t celebrate” instead of criticizing someone else’s decision to celebrate.

  3. I don’t have much of an issue with they destroying a team. BUT, I do think there is an element of ‘game’/’play’ that is detailed here: https://youtu.be/FqTZCU_ViHg?t=190 Where when someone is overly dominate, 6.45 on how we need to at very least let the other team think they have a chance from time to time. Not sure. They equal pay stuff is just silly IMO. Comes down to economics of which of the teams actually generates revenue. Best thing you could do to increase women’s soccer pay is to support their teams and actually support a womens soccer league.


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