Storm in a tea cup? USA striker Alex Morgan's 'tea-sipping' celebration causes a stir

Morgan's reaction after scoring what proved to be winning goal against England even has Hillary Clinton weighing in

epa07690551 USA's Alex Morgan celebrates after scoring a goal during the Semi final match between England and USA at the FIFA Women's World Cup 2019 in Lyon, France, 02 July 2019.  EPA/SRDJAN SUKI
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Alex Morgan's "tea-sipping" celebration during the 2019 Fifa Women's World Cup semi-finals has caused quite a stir.

Morgan scored in the 31st minute as the United States beat England 2-1 to reach the final late on Tuesday night. But what caused controversy was not so much the striker's headed goal as her celebration when she raised her fingers to her lips and mimed a sipping a cup of tea.

The celebration sparked a slew of memes on social media, some of them making references to the American Revolution. The US's victory came two days before Independence Day in the United States, which commemorates the Declaration of Independence from Britain by 13 American colonies in 1776. Remember the story of the Boston Tea Party?

Others took it to be a shot at the English public's fondness for tea, while there were those who saw nothing beyond the fact Morgan was simply celebrating her 30th birthday.

Some celebrities got into it, with British media personality Piers Morgan calling it “a declaration of war”. Former US secretary of state and first lady Hillary Clinton tweeted “congrats to the USWNT for earning that tea”; USWNT stands for the United States Women's National soccer team.

England international Lianne Sanderson described it as “distasteful”.

“I think tonight I expected Alex to grab a goal, but I’m not that happy with that celebration,” the Juventus forward said. “I could be wrong but it’s based upon playing against England and we love our tea in England. I’m not a tea drinker but that’s what we’re connected with so I think it’s a little bit distasteful.”

So what did Morgan herself have to say about it? For starters, she suggested it was purely to "keep it interesting".

She added: “I know [teammate] Megan Rapinoe has the best celebration. I had to try and step up this game."

But thereafter she suggested it was just her way of responding to her team's team critics for calling them arrogant.

“I feel like this team has had so much thrown at them and us," she pointed out. "I feel like we didn’t take an easy route through this tournament and ‘that’s the tea'.”

This is not the first time the US have attracted attention for their celebrations. They were accused for going over the top after beating Thailand 13-0 earlier in the competition. In the following match, Carli Lloyd celebrated one of her goals with a polite "golf clap".

Soccer Football - Women's World Cup - Semi Final - England v United States - Groupama Stadium, Lyon, France - July 2, 2019  Alex Morgan of the U.S. celebrates scoring their second goal with Rose Lavelle  REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Alex Morgan of the United States celebrates after scoring their second goal against England. Lucy Nicholson / Reuters