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Unites States striker Alex Morgan said it was “disrespectful” not to celebrate scoring against Thailand in their 13-0 victory at the Women’s World Cup, despite coming under criticism from pundits and former players.
Morgan scored five goals as the defending champions thrashed Thailand in their opening group game in France.
It was the biggest ever victory in a World Cup match.
“These are goals we have dreamt of our entire life,” Morgan told ESPN.
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Morgan’s comments came after former Canada international Kaylyn Kyle told a Canadian TV Show the USA team’s celebrations were “disgraceful”.
“As a Canadian, we would just never ever think of doing something like that. For me, it’s disrespectful, it’s disgraceful. Hats off to Thailand for holding their head high,” said Kyle.
Thailand, ranked 34th in the world, lost 9-0 in their previous meeting with the USA in a friendly in 2016 and were playing in the finals for only the second time.
Kyle’s comments sparked debate on social media and she later revealed she had received death threats after her criticism of the three-time world champions.
“Everyone is allowed their opinions towards my thoughts but please leave the death threats! I’m a big girl and love a debate but there is no need for this in this already crazy world,” she posted on Instagram.
Morgan. who matched a record set by compatriot Michelle Akers by scoring five goals, said she was “happy just ignoring the comments”.
“I think it’s disrespectful if we don’t show up and give our best and play our game for 90 minutes,” Morgan added. “It’s disrespectful to the Thai team. And I believe they wanted us to play them straight up.
“I’m going to celebrate Mal Pugh’s goal. I’m going to celebrate Sam Mewis and Rose Lavelle. This is their first World Cup and I’m so proud of them. It’s incredible for us all.”
Some people on social media also criticised the celebrations and a hashtag “UglyAmericans” was created.
But there was also support from former USA international Abby Wambach.
United States captain Megan Rapinoe said her team had been overjoyed at setting the record but insisted they did respect their opponents.
“We always want to have any world record and anything we can get over the Germans, we’ll take it,” Rapinoe said. “Obviously we have the utmost respect for everyone we play, but it’s the World Cup.”
Rapinoe, who celebrated her team’s ninth goal by sliding to the ground before leaping into the arms of her team-mates, told Fox Sports she understood the criticism “in part”.
“If anyone wants to come at our team for not doing the right thing, not playing the right way, not being the right ambassador for the sport, they can come at us,” she said.
“I think our only crime was an explosion of joy. If our crime is joy, then we’ll take that.”
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