LYON, France — Alex Morgan hit back at critics of her goal celebration against England in the World Cup semifinal, saying the controversy is proof of a double standard for female athletes.
After Morgan scored what proved to be the decisive goal in a 2-1 win against England on Tuesday, she ran toward a corner flag and mimicked drinking a cup of tea.
Speaking to the media Friday, Morgan said the celebration was partly an homage to English actress Sophie Turner. The former “Game of Thrones” star is known for Instagram stories in which she offers opinions or commentary on current events and signs off with the phrase “And that’s the tea,” before sipping from a cup.
As Morgan also said immediately after Tuesday’s game, she reiterated Friday that the celebration was about telling a story — in this case, of the team taking everything thrown at it during the tournament.
“I feel that there is some sort of double standard for females in sports,” Morgan said, “to feel like we have to be humble in our successes and have to celebrate, but not too much or in a limited fashion. You see men celebrating all over the world in big tournaments, grabbing their sacks or whatever it is. And when I look at sipping a cup of tea, I am a little taken aback by the criticism.”
Morgan also said she was disappointed that former NWSL teammate Lianne Sanderson was among those criticizing the American forward. A former England international who is working for beIn Sports during the World Cup, Sanderson said the celebration was “distasteful.”
In other stories involving the ongoing theme of English displeasure with the American team, U.S. midfielder Lindsey Horan said she reached out to England captain Steph Houghton to apologize for unintentionally interrupting a postgame interview. Houghton cut short an interview with talkSport after Horan was heard yelling congratulations to U.S. goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher in the background.
Naeher saved Houghton’s penalty kick in the 84th minute to preserve the American lead.
“I had no intention of it,” Horan said. “Obviously, emotions arise after a game, and I was so excited for Alyssa. It was the biggest save of her life, and I saw [Naeher] doing an interview, and I wanted to rile her up again. I had no idea what was around me, so hopefully Steph knows that.”
On the home front, Morgan was also asked about the team’s plans for a White House visit. In months-old comments released during the World Cup, Megan Rapinoe said she would not visit the White House if invited. Rapinoe added in a subsequent statement that she would encourage teammates to “think hard” about accepting such an invitation from the current administration.
Morgan and Rapinoe are two of three U.S. captains, along with Carli Lloyd.
“I think we’ll make that decision after we finish Sunday’s game,” Morgan said. “I think there’s been a lot of talk prematurely about the White House and [President Donald] Trump, but first we have to do business. But [as far as going], I think you guys know the answer to that anyways.”
After Rapinoe’s comments were released, President Trump criticized her in a series of tweets and invited the entire team regardless of the tournament outcome.
The U.S. will try to win its fourth World Cup title when it plays the Netherlands in Sunday’s final.