After the disappointing loss suffered in the Women’s World Cup by the oddsmaker favorite United States Women’s National Team, TV viewership for the event predictably plunged in America. Yet despite the American women’s early exit, the tournament — buoyed by a surging interest in women’s sports overall — still did well for Fox Sports, which owned the English language rights.
One famous World Cup follower felt compelled to comment on the outcome, and predict a U.S. resurgence while congratulating the victor. Former U.S. President Barack Obama — father of two girls, by the way — congratulated first time World Cup champion Spain on its 1-0 victory over England in the Finals. Obama wrote: “Congrats to Spain on their first FIFA Women’s World Cup victory! The U.S. will be back next time.”
Obama’s comment may seem anodyne and apolitical, but no comment by a prominent American politician mentioning the US Women’s team can be apolitical now, as the raging U.S. culture wars have made the USWNT fodder for battle.
The U.S. Women’s National Team became a political lightning rod after losing, with numerous high profile conservative politicians — including former President Donald Trump — slamming the team for being unpatriotic and “woke” and saying “some of the players” were “openly hostile to America.”
Obama’s reaction, by contrast with Trump’s, can be seen as emblematic of the seemingly unbridgeable world view differences between contemporary Democrats and MAGA Republicans. Obama expressed optimism about the Americans’ future, and also graciously praised a foreign nation for its success. Trump ended his post by saying “the USA is going to hell.”
Conservative voices joining Trump, like MAGA media personality Megyn Kelly, said of the U.S. team: “I’m thrilled they lost.”
Hillary Clinton, taking a position predictably closer to Obama’s, said when the U.S. team exited that she was “forever proud of our USWNT,” predicting the team will “come back better and stronger.”
I’m forever proud of our #USWNT. This team will come back better and stronger, because that’s what American women do. 💚⚽️🇺🇸— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) August 6, 2023