The United States Women’s National Soccer Team (USWNT) has been one of the most successful international squads in the history of any sport. World Cup victories and global acclaim are part of the women’s resume, but a bit of a dark moment prior to their game with Vietnam on Friday left many Americans feeling upset.
THE NATIONAL ANTHEM PLAYS AT THE 2023 FIFA WOMEN'S WORLD CUP FOR THE FIRST TIME 🙌 pic.twitter.com/czqIXr5zBT
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) July 22, 2023
Most of the U.S. team stood silently in New Zealand’s Eden Park Arena and stared straight ahead as the National Anthem played. Meanwhile, only a few of the footballers put their hands over their hearts – according to a video posted online.
The incident takes place with the team seemingly constantly wrapped up in a lot of political chatter, which is what made many average fans suspicious of the team’s motivation. While the group of female soccer stars was initially viewed as a source of pride when they ascended to the top of the world stage, that’s all changed in recent years. As the unit evolved and the names changed, the team continued to grow its presence in sports.
However, with their notoriety also came a somewhat self-fulfilled need to be spokespeople for a few too many hot-button issues. It’s left some longtime US followers with a bad taste in their mouths. It’s almost become automatic at this point: If there is any issue, anywhere, that involves women or social issues. There’s a good chance that a member of the team – like locker room leader Megan Rapinoe – will eventually weigh in. It’s as if they can’t just play the game, and not be martyrs for massive change. They’ve protested for everything from LGBTQ rights to higher pay for themselves, to the point that it’s beginning to erode their image.
Only five of the 11 US players placed their hands over their hearts as the song blared throughout the stadium. Julie Ertz, Alyssa Naeher, and Lindsey Horan were seen mouthing the words to the song while the rest of the team basically just stood there, staring blankly as if they were annoyed they had to go through this in the first place.
It also didn’t help much that the club from Vietnam – a country that America doesn’t exactly have a golden history with – was quite the opposite when recognizing its flag. As their national anthem “Tiến Quân Ca” (translation: “Song of a Marching Army”) was played, the team sang in chorus, and put their hands over their hearts.
Needless to say, some soccer fans viewed the emotionless Americans’ display as essentially spitting on Old Glory, and when people are outraged, they immediately head to social media.
This is just SAD!!!
Most of the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team players REFUSED to sing the American national anthem.
They are not REPRESENTING our country well.pic.twitter.com/8SC1LjI3ck
— Graham Allen (@GrahamAllen_1) July 23, 2023
“This is just SAD!” Tweeted conservative commentator Graham Allen. “Most of the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team players REFUSED to sing the American national anthem. They are not REPRESENTING our country well.”
On the pitch, the US Women dominated, defeating the Vietnamese ladies, 3-0. Shots were 28-0, and the Americans were led by two goals from Sophia Smith. Lindsey Horan netted the other. The victory ran the USWNT’s streak to 14 straight matches in FIFA World Cup play, dating back to 2015. The club has outscored their opponents, 43-5, in those contests.