The United States Women's national soccer team (USWNT) has copped a wave of backlash, with one pre-tournament advertisement labelled "arrogant" in the wake of their shock World Cup exit at the hands of Sweden on Sunday night. USA - the two-time defending champions - suffered their earliest Women's World Cup exit ever after being knocked out by Sweden in the most dramatic of penalty shoot-outs.
Goalkeeper Zecira Musovic was the hero for Sweden, keeping scores locked at 0-0 with a series of incredible saves. Sweden were outplayed by the tournament favourites for two hours, but the Americans couldn't land the killer blow and the match went to penalties locked at 0-0. The mighty US team had chances to win the shootout but missed three of their spot-kicks, including one by American legend, Megan Rapinoe, who was blasted by fans for laughing in response.
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In astonishing scenes, Lina Hurtig scored a sudden-death winner with Sweden's seventh spot kick after US keeper Alyssa Naeher parried the shot into the air, before swatting it away at the second attempt. After a lengthy delay, VAR ruled the ball had crossed the line before Naeher's second effort as Sweden erupted in celebration and the Americans were left shattered.
'Polarising' American team slammed after loss
Compounding the heartbreaking loss for the Americans was the brutal reaction to their defeat back home. The US team has frequently been described as "unlikeable" - most commonly in sections of the American public whose conservative political opinions are at odds with many of the liberal-thinking stars like Rapinoe.
American soccer analyst and former Team USA star Alexi Lalas was among those who gave the women's team a brutal reality check after a loss in which many of the players took a knee during the American anthem before kick-off. “Don’t kill the messenger. This #USWNT is polarizing,” Lalas wrote.
“Politics, causes, stances, & behavior have made this team unlikeable to a portion of America. This team has built its brand and has derived its power from being the best/winning. If that goes away they risk becoming irrelevant.”
Don’t kill the messenger. This #USWNT is polarizing. Politics, causes, stances, & behavior have made this team unlikeable to a portion of America. This team has built its brand and has derived its power from being the best/winning. If that goes away they risk becoming irrelevant. https://t.co/J5yFxOuBet
— Alexi Lalas (@AlexiLalas) August 6, 2023
'Arrogant' ad comes back to bite Americans
However, it was a pre-tournament ad - trumpeting the might of the USWNT team and questioning how any other team could topple them - that has been pounced on by critics. The commercial was created by America's host World Cup broadcaster Fox Sports and begins with the line: “The whole world is wondering, what’s it going to take to stop this US team?”
The ad then proceeds to bombard viewers with a number of questionable stereotypes. A man in a leather jacket with the colours of the Italian flag on his binoculars ponders: "Maybe we can steal their plays". A drone with mini Italian flags can then be seen flying over a USA training session just in case viewers didn't get the 'subtlety'.
Then there's the German-sounding scientists in a lab that talk about using artificial intelligence “that mimicks their every move”. The ad even throws in a classic American attempt at an Australian accent as a woman dressed in green and gold at an airport check-in desk says: "Their flights could get cancelled," before giving a fake sigh of disappointment.
The ad wraps up with a woman exclaiming: “I mean, the entire world is going to do whatever it takes to stop the US". Veteran striker Alex Morgan responds by saying: "Good luck with that", before offering a cheeky smile and jogging off. The ad was re-posted after America's World Cup exit and has sparked an avalanche of criticism against the US, who are being slammed over the "cocky" move.
Well isn’t this hilarious now? pic.twitter.com/jfeHhe0V9R
— Ahmed Yussuf (@ahmedyussuf10) August 6, 2023
I have absolutely no sympathy for a team that felt like making an advert that essentially called every other team shit and said they’re steps behind USA. This is what you get, cocky bastards 😂😂😂😂
— A🦎 (@gooner4life_02) August 6, 2023
— Tyler Kuehl (@TJKu29) August 7, 2023
Those USWNT World Cup ads are so cringe now.
— Kendall Roy (@CORBIN_DAIIAS) August 6, 2023
They are an Anti American American soccer team . So glad these cocky woke rude athletes lost.
— Paul Bosse (@BosseBosse18) August 7, 2023
— Hmmmm……. (@GoodPoint2022) August 6, 2023
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