Like the champion she is, U.S. soccer player Megan Rapinoe defended her teammate Alex Morgan from critics who have taken issue with the tea-sipping gesture Morgan made during a semifinal match in the FIFA Women’s World Cup this week. In an interview Rapinoe praised Morgan and then clapped back at haters so perfectly that the whole thing was, well, goals.
To recap, Morgan celebrated her 30th birthday by scoring one of two goals that brought the U.S. Women’s National Team to victory over England on Tuesday. Her reaction? She pretended she was sipping a cup of tea and lifted her pinkie high in the air, a perfectly cheeky version of a fist-pump, tailor-made for the rival team.
While most people thought the move was, as the English would say, bloody brilliant, not everyone was thrilled. Lots of social media users (particularly those in the U.K.) called Morgan out for being too cocky—a constant criticism during their historic World Cup run. As the USWNT racks up wins on their way to the final on Sunday, trolls have argued that their on-the-field celebrations have been distasteful.
Rapinoe, however, had some thoughts when asked about the meme-making moment after the game. “That was next-level. That was pretty sharp by Alex,” she said, joking that next time she’d have to do something bigger so Morgan wouldn’t upstage her. An interviewer than asked what Rapinoe thought of the backlash Morgan’s faced, and the athlete quickly made it clear that the U.S. Women’s National Team has nothing but love for their opponents.
“Wah, wah, wah,” she said. “I mean, it’s like, we’re at the World Cup, what do you want us to do? This is the biggest stage, the biggest moment. I don’t think anyone truly believes that we disrespect the game or disrespect our opponents. We have the utmost for England and every team that we’ve faced and every team that we will face, forever and ever. That’s just part of the DNA of the squad. With that said, we work hard, we like to play hard, and we like to have fun and enjoy ourselves, and these are the absolute biggest moments to do that.”
Rapinoe has been frank and articulate when it comes to matters off the field too. The LGBTQ-rights activist recently made headlines for saying that she won’t go to the White House if the team is invited by President Trump, and she’s been one of the leaders in a gender-discrimination lawsuit her team leveled against the U.S. Soccer Federation. She’s a GOAT in every way.