Bitter conservatives have hit out at football legend and lesbian icon Megan Rapinoe after the United States crashed out of the Women’s World Cup on Sunday (6 August).
The US national team exited the tournament after they lost 5-4 on penalties to Sweden, following a goalless 120 minutes in the last-16 clash in Melbourne.
It marks the first time the United States women’s team have failed to make it to the semi-finals of the competition.
Rapinoe – who has announced her plans to retire from the game later this year – sent her penalty high over the bar, saying afterwards it felt like “sick joke” and “there’s some dark, dark comedy in me missing a penalty in my last [international game”.
The result was met with a vile backlash from conservative figures and right-wing social-media users, who took the sporting failure as an opportunity to denigrate Rapinoe’s footballing prowess and so-called woke activism.
Indicted former US president Donald Trump led the way, taking to his Truth Social account to post: “The ‘shocking and totally unexpected’ loss by the US Women’s soccer team to Sweden is fully emblematic of what is happening to… our once-great nation under crooked Joe Biden.
“Many of our players were openly hostile to America – no other country behaved in such a manner, or even close. Woke equals fail. Nice shot Megan, the USA is going to hell. MAGA [make American great again].”
Trump, who – among other legal problems – is facing four federal charges related to his alleged efforts to overturn the result of the 2020 presidential election, is no stranger to making negative comments about Rapinoe and the US team.
In 2021, after the US took home the bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics, Trump described Rapinoe as the “woman with the purple hair” and said she played “terribly” because he believes she “spends too much time thinking about radical left politics and not doing her job.”
Rapinoe’s so-called terrible performance saw her score twice in the USA’s 4-3 victory over Australia in the bronze-medal game.
Megan Rapinoe misses her penalty against Sweden on Sunday. (Chris Putnam/Future Publishing via Getty Images)
Also taking aim at Rapinoe was conservative political commentator and YouTuber Benny Johnson. He took to X – Elon Musk’s rebranded Twitter – to unleash a multi-tweet attack on the superstar of the women’s game.
He berated her for missing the penalty, which he incorrectly referred to as a “free kick”, while failing to mention that teammates Sophia Smith and Kelley O’Hara also missed their penalties.
Johnson, who who was fired from Buzzfeed in 2014 for plagiarising articles, described Rapinoe as an “anti-America, anti-woman activist” for her support of trans inclusion and the fact she did not stand during the national anthem, before making a range of other derogatory comments.
He also pushed the bizarre conspiracy theory that Rapinoe “intentionally sabotaged” the US team.
In a similar vein, anti-trans pundit Oli London asked his followers whether “Megan Rapinoe hates America” before going on to list her beliefs and actions which he sees as disagreeable.
The right-wing backlash follows a bizarre rant by sports columnist Jason Whitlock prior to the Sweden game.
Whitlock, a writer, podcaster and former American Football player, said in an episode of his podcast that he “despises” the US women’s team and believes Rapinoe is the “Andrew Tate of LGBTQ feminism”.
However, for all the backlash, the US team’s supporters still came out in force.
In a tweet, president Joe Biden wrote: “@USWNT, you’ve made your country proud. Congratulations on an incredible run. This team is something special and I’m looking forward to seeing how you continue to inspire Americans with your grit and determination – on and off the field.”
Billy Binion, an associate editor at Reason magazine, pointed out that people’s obsession with Rapinoe’s politics detracted from the football.
“It is genuinely very strange to me to see so many Americans celebrating their own country’s failure on an international stage because they don’t like that Megan Rapinoe is ‘woke’. A person is more than their ideology. People have let politics rot their brains,” he wrote.