On Tuesday, U.S. National Women's Soccer team forward and co-captain Alex Morgan kicked a final goal to beat England, launching her team to Sunday's World Cup final. She celebrated her game-winning move by pretending to sip a cup of tea from the sideline, a quip she later said was meant to be a reference to "spilling the tea," not a dig at England and its tea culture.
But as video of the tea sipping moment spread online, it inspired memes — and criticism — galore. Critics who faulted Alex suggested she was being arrogant or exhibiting poor sportsmanship.
"My celebration was actually more about, 'That's the tea,' which is telling a story, spreading news," Alex told Reuters. "Sophie Turner does it quite often. She's one of my favorite actresses. So it wasn't a hit to England in any way," she added.
As E! News points out, Sophie frequently shares videos of herself sipping wine, making snarky commentary about everything from politics to music to her show, "Game of Thrones," and saying, "That's the tea."
On Friday, July 5, Sophie posted a response to the whole thing.
"OK, I'm on my honeymoon, I'm not really [looking] at my phone much, but I feel like this deserves a mention," she said in a clip on her Instagram Story, wine in hand. "Unfortunately, the U.K. Women's Football team lost at the World Cup, and of course, I'm incredibly sad and incredibly proud of that team. But I am so honored that we lost to such an incredible team, the U.S. Women's Football team," she continued.
"Alex Morgan, all the haters that are saying that this was disrespectful, I'm honored that you thought of me and all those people that are hating on you are probably sitting at home, Millennials drinking Kombucha," she added. "And I'm really f—ing proud of you, Alex Morgan, congratulations on your win. And that's the mother—-ing tea."
Asked about the controversy that followed her tea-sipping move, Alex noted that a male athlete who celebrated a win in similar fashion would be unlikely to generate the same backlash.
"You see men celebrating all over the world in big tournaments, grabbing their sacks or whatever it is," Alex told reporters last week. "When I look at sipping a cup of tea I'm a little taken aback and kind of — you have to laugh about it to see all the criticism."
The fiasco comes on the heels of Donald Trump's negative comments about Alex's teammate, Megan Rapinoe, for not singing the National Anthem, and her assurance that she's "not going to the f——White House" if the president invites her team after the World Cup.
Megan has said her refusal to sing was in support of Colin Kaepernick's protest. According to Yahoo Sports, she kneeled during the anthem at a 2016 game as well, making her the first white athlete and the first female athlete to do so.