Alex Morgan’s tea-sipping celebration was a storm in a teacup but it’ll still have most of the world hoping the United States lose the Women’s World Cup final.
Americans don’t do good manners under a global spotlight.
It’s not a cliché to suggest as much, it’s simply an acknowledgement of hundreds of years of world history.
It’s why Serena Williams – quite possibly the most self-absorbed tennis player of all time – can elicit groans of astonishment when she admits she has no idea the current world number one is unassuming Aussie battler Ash Barty.
As Australians we’re baffled by such ignorance, but to a citizen of a nation obsessed with the concept of American exceptionalism, the idea of looking beyond one’s own borders no doubt seems equally ludicrous.
It’s why Morgan’s tea-sipping celebration was as confusing as it was contentious.
Many assumed it was a reference to the Boston Tea Party – a pivotal event in the creation of the United States as a nation, but one that took place back in 1773 – however Morgan was quick to downplay the suggestion.
“I know Megan Rapinoe has the best celebration,” Morgan told reporters after the USA’s controversial 2-1 semi-final win over England.
“I had to try and step up this game.”
No one even seems to be sure of what she said next. Several different versions were reported, but it seems to have been some iteration of “and that’s the tea”.
And guess what? None of it actually matters.
History shows that Jill Ellis’ team was too good for England and that’s why they’ll take on the Netherlands in Monday morning’s (AEST) final in Lyon.
“Wah wah wah” was fellow striker Rapinoe’s succinct response to the criticism of Morgan’s celebration.
Good for her.
Anyone who doesn’t care for such sentiment can always train for a decade, get good enough to make a national team, reach a World Cup final and then say whatever’s on their mind.
But equally – and this is where a keyboard critic like myself comes in – if you’re performing in the public eye then you’re fair game for the critiques that come with it.
That’s something a few of the Matildas may need to learn if the allegations some of them felt above criticism during their World Cup campaign are true.
THE MATILDAS' @FIFAWWC DIARIES – 7) “chosen ones in with “The Clique” (as you call it) are all so stuck up, since they've been put on a pedestal .. nobody can criticise them in their eyes – some wouldn't have been in @TheMatildas at all under Staj” – let's get enquiry going @FFA pic.twitter.com/cImAraAodP
— ???????????????????????? ???????????? (@Zenith_SEM) July 3, 2019
However, simply just talking about some of these issues is a roundabout acknowledgement of one of the defining aspects of this World Cup.
Namely that the vast majority of fans tuning in long ago stop obsessing about the fact it’s a tournament being played by women.
This has been one of the most exciting World Cups in recent memory – male or female.
Yes, VAR has been a predictable nightmare and it’s true the standard of football has been a lot higher in some games than others.
But both of those problems exist in the men’s game and the sheer exhilaration of the football on offer in France has far outweighed such negatives.
As impressive as the last World Cup in Canada was, it could be argued the 2019 version is the first women’s tournament to have truly crashed its way into the mainstream conscience.
So it is that a worldwide viewing audience in the millions will tune into the World Cup final between reigning champions the USA and underdogs the Netherlands.
It’s a win-win situation for those who’d like to see female role models grace the pantheons of world sport and those of us who simply want to watch some football.
And the Americans can say whatever they want.
The rest of the world may find them rude, loud and arrogant but come Monday morning we might also find them to be back-to-back World Cup winners.
They’ve helped make this World Cup one of the most exciting on record.
But they shouldn’t be surprised when the cries of “Hup, Holland, Hup!” ring out from the rest of us neutrals.