The U.S. women’s national team players have attracted criticism in recent years for their political activism. Some have urged them to “stick to soccer.”
For Midge Purce, who has played for the team on and off since 2017, the controversy surrounding Spain’s World Cup win – after which Luis Rubiales, president of the Spanish football federation (RFEF), kissed star player Jenni Hermoso on the lips – proves that refrain is off-base.
“When everyone was talking about the U.S. national team players, and how they’re not likable because they use their platform to speak on so many political issues, and basically (telling them to) stick to playing soccer — I think, in light of what we just witnessed on the World Cup stage, it just reiterates that there is not a space at the moment to just play soccer,” Purce said on “The 91st,” the Just Women’s Sports podcast she co-hosts alongside Katie Nolan.
Purce added: “You don’t think people just want to play soccer?”
Rubiales has since apologized for the incident, but he continues to face criticism. On Tuesday, Spain’s acting prime minster Pedro Sánchez said Rubiales’ apology “wasn’t sufficient.”
“Mr. Rubiales needs to continue to take steps to clarify what we all saw,” Sánchez said.
Purce also said Spain’s win should not count as proof that embattled head coach Jorge Vilda is the right fit for the team. Before the World Cup, 15 players wrote a letter to the RFEF criticizing his management style.
“I don’t really see this line of reasoning, which is, you win, you must stay. I think it prioritizes the values of society really, really poorly,” Purce said. “What a dangerous message to send to not just young women, but young men as well.”