Since the 2019 Women’s World Cup has kicked off, one of the major topics has not only been the dominance of the United States women’s team, but the manner with which they’ve celebrated, beginning with their overwhelming 13-0 victory over Thailand, according to a CNN report. While in that match the celebrations seemed like an overkill for the United States, star Alex Morgan’s celebration against England in their semi-final match on Tuesday caused something of a controversy over her tea-drinking mime.
Morgan celebrated her 30th birthday by scoring the winning goal and securing the American women’s passage into the World Cup final for the third consecutive time, topping it all off with a playful dig at the British tradition of drinking tea politely. At the surface level, it didn’t appear to be much of a political or offensive statement; rather, more of a reference to a cultural norm in the United Kingdom where Brits drink 100 million cups of tea a day, according to the UK Tea & Infusions Association.
However, when asked for details about the celebration, Morgan explained that it was in response to the criticism the team has received over the course of the tournament, saying, “I wanted to keep it interesting. I know Megan Rapinoe has the best celebration. I had to try and step up this game. I feel like this team has had so much thrown at them and us. I feel like we didn’t take an easy route through this tournament and ‘that’s the tea.'”
— New York Post (@nypost) July 3, 2019
The celebration solidified Morgan as an American sporting icon, as she looks likely to also secure the tournament’s Golden Boot. The tea-themed celebration even drew a response from former presidential candidate Hilary Clinton, who tweeted, “Congrats to the #USWNT for earning that tea.”
Before Morgan clarified the meaning behind her celebration, online debates offered alternatives explanations, including a reference to the Boston Tea Party or miming smoking a cigarette.
However, not everyone was laughing along with Morgan’s celebration.
English soccer player and beIN Sports pundit Lianne Sanderson responded by saying, “You can celebrate however you want, but that for me is a bit distasteful. I’m a big believer in the Americans and how they celebrate but for me, this was a little bit disrespectful.”
Piers Morgan, who is no stranger to drawing the ire of Twitter on soccer-related topics, sent out a tweet encouraging the English women to “make these cocky yanks choke on it.”
A prompt response from @DailySports_1 referencing the difference between him and the athlete he shares a surname with kept the banter going.
— Tom Brady is not a system QB (@DailySports_1) July 2, 2019
While their victory over England was a massive accomplishment, there is still the final to play, with the United States facing the winner of the Netherlands and Sweden semi-final on Sunday.