Lianne Sanderson called the striker’s celebration “disrespectful”, but her team-mate claimed the reaction has been a storm in a teacup.
Megan Rapinoe has leapt to Alex Morgan’s defence after the United States captain was accused of being “disrespectful” for her tea-sipping celebration in the Women’s World Cup semi-final win over England.
Morgan headed in her sixth goal of the tournament in Lyon on Tuesday to seal a 2-1 victory for USA, who advanced to a third-straight final, and she celebrated the winner by pretending to drink tea with her little finger raised.
Some construed that as a shot fired at her opponents given the beverage’s popularity in Britain, with England forward Lianne Sanderson, who is working as a pundit for beIN SPORTS at the tournament, calling it “distasteful” and “disrespectful”, and television presenter Piers Morgan saying it was “bordering on a declaration of war”.
USA players had also come under fire for their goal celebrations in a 13-0 win over Thailand earlier in the tournament, long after the game had already been won, and Rapinoe appeared sick of the latest round of criticism.
“Wah-wah-wah. I mean, it’s like, we’re at the World Cup – what do you want us to do?” Rapinoe said.
“This is the biggest stage, the biggest moment. I don’t think anyone truly believes that we disrespect the game or disrespect our opponents. We have the utmost respect for England and every team that we’ve faced and every team that we will face forever and ever, that’s just part of the DNA of this squad.
“With that said, we work hard, we like to play hard and we like to have fun and enjoy ourselves, and these are the absolute biggest moments to do that.”
Rapinoe was one of three players conducting interviews on Wednesday when Jill Ellis’ squad were leaving their hotel, with Morgan curiously spotted hot drink in hand as she walked past the cameras to the team bus.
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Despite the storm in a teacup that has followed, Morgan had suggested the pose Rapinoe pulled after her first goal in the quarter-final win over France was the best celebration of the tournament.
“I think I might have been upstaged,” Rapinoe said when asked about that comment.
“That was next level from Alex. Maybe we will have to do it at the same time and we’ll duke it out!”
Rapinoe was in the news earlier on Wednesday when she continued her feud with U.S. President Donald Trump.
“I expect him to have better things to do,” she said referring to the President criticising her on Twitter.