Less than 24 hours have passed since Megan Rapinoe scored the only two goals against France in the Women’s World Cup quarter-final match, but her glorious goal celebration has already been hailed as an “iconic” moment in soccer and all sports.
A photo of a triumphant Rapinoe with her arms outstretched, a pose she struck after scoring both goals, quickly set Twitter ablaze.
“This is one of my favorite sports pictures of the decade,” sports pundit Bill Simmons tweeted, adding that Rapinoe was an “inspiration to [his] daughter.”
It’s arguably the most viral moment of the US star forward’s historic World Cup run. And of course, the internet immediately adopted the photo as a meme and symbol of patriotism for an American athlete and activist in her prime.
Her epic performance led some to suggest that the United States “tear down the Confederate monuments and put up Megan Rapinoe monuments.” Others pledged their allegiance to Rapinoe as their new President.
But others, including President Donald Trump, have viewed her celebration and performance throughout the Women’s World Cup as arrogant and premature. “She should WIN before she TALKS!” Trump tweeted Wednesday after Rapinoe said she’s “not f****ng going to the White House” if the team wins the finals and is invited.
The US Women’s National Team was criticized earlier in the tournament for poor sportsmanship after mercilessly scoring 13 goals against a scoreless Thailand and celebrating every single one, even as their opponents were brought to tears.
Rapinoe, who’s called herself a “walking protest,” doesn’t shy from making controversial statements. Before her comments about Trump went viral, she made waves in 2016 when she knelt during the national anthem before a Seattle Reign game as a show of solidarity with Colin Kaepernick, the former NFL quarterback whose protests against racial injustice and police brutality drew criticism.
It’s fitting, too, that Rapinoe, an activist who came out as gay during the 2011 Women’s World Cup, is giving the best performance of her career during Pride month.
“You can’t win a championship without gays on your team,” she told reporters Friday.
Even if the US Women’s National Team doesn’t win the World Cup, many fans believe Rapinoe has cemented her status as an American hero.