When the USA misplaced to Sweden within the Girls’s World Cup on Sunday, many American viewers noticed it as a painful collapse on the grandest stage — the kind of agonizing second that occurs in sports activities.
For former President Donald J. Trump, it was an indication of nationwide decline.
The loss was “absolutely emblematic of what’s occurring to the our as soon as nice Nation below Crooked Joe Biden,” Mr. Trump wrote on his social media platform.
“Lots of our gamers had been overtly hostile to America — No different nation behaved in such a fashion, and even shut,” he added. “WOKE EQUALS FAILURE. Good shot Megan, the USA goes to Hell!!! MAGA.”
The taunt was an extension of a longstanding feud between Mr. Trump and Megan Rapinoe, the retiring soccer star who as soon as refused to go to the Trump White Home, and whose missed penalty kick contributed to the group’s loss. (After the sport, Ms. Rapinoe summed up the miss as a kind of “sick joke.”)
Nevertheless it was additionally a placing instance of the unforgiving second in right-wing politics, when a former president will taunt an American group competing on the nationwide stage and relish the agony of its defeat.
President Biden congratulated the group on Twitter: “I’m wanting ahead to seeing the way you proceed to encourage People along with your grit and dedication — on and off the sphere.”
“Your unwavering assist means so much to us,” the group stated to its followers on Sunday. “Our aim stays the identical, to win.”
Criticism of the group was frequent within the on-line right-wing ecosystem even earlier than its loss.
Megyn Kelly, the podcast host, stated that Ms. Rapinoe had “poisoned the complete group towards the nation for which they play” forward of the sport.
The precise-wing activist Brigitte Gabriel wrote late final month, “I really like America and that’s why I’m rooting towards the woke U.S. Girls’s Nationwide Soccer Crew this yr.”
Richard Lapchick, the president of the Institute for Sport and Social Justice, drew a parallel between Mr. Trump’s assault on Ms. Rapinoe and his assaults in 2017 on N.F.L. gamers who, impressed by Colin Kaepernick, knelt for the nationwide anthem to protest racial inequality and police brutality.
After Mr. Trump’s criticism six years in the past, “what was seemingly a dimming protest motion within the N.F.L. was out of the blue reignited in order that that they had even homeowners and coaches” expressing assist, Dr. Lapchick stated.
“I feel that his doing this once more this week will reinforce the bottom of athlete activism that I feel has grown considerably stronger within the final couple of years,” he stated.
The conservative criticism has been targeted on each Ms. Rapinoe’s political statements — together with her assist of homosexual and transgender rights, which Mr. Trump has attacked — and the ladies’s nationwide group’s combat for pay fairness. Mr. Trump and others disparage these stances as “woke,” the proper’s catchall shorthand for progressive views on gender, race and different points.
A latest article in The Washington Examiner, a conservative publication, accused the ladies’s nationwide soccer group of showing “way more involved pushing a woke agenda concerning equal pay for feminine athletes and the rights of L.G.B.T. residents than they’ve been with successful video games.”
Ms. Rapinoe has been a goal of the proper since a minimum of 2019, when she refused to go to the White Home after the USA received the final Girls’s World Cup. Mr. Trump criticized her on the time. She has lengthy been outspoken, and he or she is among the many athletes who’ve knelt for the nationwide anthem.
Whereas “anti-woke” assaults have reliably stirred the right-wing base, a latest New York Instances/Siena Faculty ballot signifies that they don’t mirror most voters’ priorities.
A minority of the presidential candidates, together with former Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, Gov. Doug Burgum of North Dakota and former Consultant Will Hurd of Texas, have urged Republicans to concentrate on concrete issues like inflation.
Then once more, so has Mr. Trump — to a degree.
“I don’t just like the time period ‘woke,’” he stated in Iowa in June, including, “It’s only a time period they use — half the individuals can’t even outline it, they don’t know what it’s.”
Mary Jo Kane, a professor emerita and founding father of the Tucker Middle for Analysis on Women & Girls in Sport on the College of Minnesota, recommended that the mere existence of Mr. Trump’s newest assault was “a mirrored image of the expansion and the facility and the importance of a cultural second of girls’s sports activities.”
“The truth that the previous president of the USA is commenting on girls’s sports activities — no one used to touch upon girls’s sports activities,” she stated. “The truth that this has turn out to be one more area that’s culturally contested and commented on is, sarcastically and unwittingly, an illustration of the position of girls’s sports activities in our society.”