Donald Trump at centre of ‘shameful’ US Olympics 'disgrace'
Former US President Donald Trump has found himself at the centre of an explosive US Olympics controversy that continues to divide a nation.
The US Women's soccer team (USWNT) sparked backlash during their opening 3-0 loss to Sweden when the majority of the team took a knee before kick-off - in a protest against racism that many other countries are adopting.
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USWNT had their 44-unbeaten game shattered after the loss to Sweden, with the majority of the starting XI kneeling before the whistle - much like Australia's Matildas before their opening match.
The gesture, to raise awareness for racial injustices, follows the Olympics relaxing its historically strident rules on protests during the Games.
However, it continues to be a topic of great division within the United States, where critics argue the players are disrespecting the flag and the countless number of soldiers who have died defending the country.
The situation has led to the extraordinary scenario whereby parts of the country were actually cheering when the American women lost to Sweden.
Speaking before USWNT's second match - a 6-1 trouncing of New Zealand - Trump addressed supporters at a rally where he slammed the American soccer players and seemingly encouraged others to continue criticising them.
Trump, at election rally, blames "wokeism" for U.S. Women's soccer loss -- and encourages the crowd to boo the team.https://t.co/RsqiMfBNiv pic.twitter.com/9AWWK8ktx9
— NBC New York (@NBCNewYork) July 25, 2021
“Woke politics takes the life and joy out of everything,” Mr Trump said.
“Wokeism makes you lose, ruins your mind and ruins you as a person. You become warped. You become demented.
“The US women’s soccer team is a very good example of what’s going on. Earlier this week, they unexpectedly lost to Sweden, three to nothing.”
The former President then paused momentarily as the audience clapped and cheered about the defeat.
“And Americans were happy about it. You proved that point before I even said it,” he added.
Trump's comments echoed a flood of similar sentiment from Americans on social media, who accused the players of being "shameful" and "disrespectful" to the country for kneeling during the national anthem.
Shameful. Wtf. Get off your knees and respect the flag or don’t compete. Men and women die for the flag so you can enjoy your freedom of speech. Unbelievable
— Jonas Merk (@jonas_merk) July 22, 2021
It's so outrageous and shameful!!!I forgot all the passion I've always had for soccer.I want some, that even losing are proud & respectful! I want these losers OUT.They DO NOT represent us.WHY IN THE WORLD, except for those 3, are they representing the USA? Why???Get them OUT!!!
— Mikkang (@TheRealMikkang) July 22, 2021
However, many others found it disgusting that and disappointing that Americans couldn't out their political beliefs aside, and cheer on their own athletes.
@ussoccer @wearetheuswomen #Shameful https://t.co/G6G9NZgzPB
— Meidas Mighty CatMom🇺🇸 (@Nials5) July 25, 2021
— mischell utter (@MischellUtter) July 26, 2021
"the former guy" is now rooting AGAINST the US Women's Soccer Team at the Olympics. OUCH!!! This is the man who SO MANY REPUBLICANS ARE CHEERING AT HIS RALLIES. Pray God, has this beast of destruction NO loyalty whatsoever anywhere in his bloodline, in his mind, in his being?
— Barbara Poeta (@PoetaBarbara) July 26, 2021
The fact that Americans are cheering Sweden beating the US soccer team just to score some political points and dunk on the players bc of their liberal ideas is just messed up. You’re part of the problem if you do that, you’re part of the division. Be better. Be the voice of unity
— Lucas Hatake (@Iukenessmonster) July 25, 2021
USWNT play Matildas in crunch Olympics clash
The USWNT are set to lock horns with the Matildas in a crucial final group game at the Olympics on Tuesday night (AEST).
The Americans and Aussies both sit on three points, having each lost to Sweden and beaten New Zealand, though the Americans have a superior goal difference.
A Matildas win would lock in second place in group G and a quarter-final against the group F winner - either the Netherlands or Brazil.
A draw should see the Matildas progress as one of two best third-placed teams to play the group E winner - either Great Britain or Canada - as should a loss, but the latter would see them face a nervous wait on results in other groups.
But for now their fate will be in their own hands from at Kashima Stadium on Tuedsay (6pm AEST).
"We showed in both these opening games now that we are very true to who we are as a team - we're ready to play our best with the crest on the chest and leave it all out there," Australia coach Tony Gustavsson said after losing to Sweden.
"We're a pressing and aggressive team, we're an attacking-minded team.
"... We'll go about (the US) game as being ourselves and hope that we're good enough to beat them - we know we can if we play our A game."
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