USA-France women's soccer: Why French people should root for the USA in the Women's World Cup semifinal.

The stadium scene.
July 12 2011 4:39 PM

American Exceptionalism

Why France should root for the USA in the Women's World Cup.

In advance of Wednesday's Women's World Cup semifinal between the United States and France, we're exchanging some good-natured (and some less good-natured) trash talk with our friends at sister site Slate.fr. Below, David Plotz argues that all French people should pay homage to the American women's soccer team. Elsewhere in Slate,Clément Noël and Grégoire Fleurot of Slate.fr offer four reasons why all Americans should root for France.

Team USA. Click image to expand.
The U.S. national soccer team

Dear Slate.fr Readers,

David Plotz David Plotz

David Plotz is Slate's editor at large. He's the author of The Genius Factory and Good Book.

It's not easy being a French sports fan these days, is it? Your major national sports spectacle, the Tour de France, has degenerated into a black comedy of lying, cheating, and tattling (not that any French rider has a gnat's hope of winning the race, doped or not). Your men's national soccer team managed a single goal during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa—the same number of goals as players kicked off the team—before disintegrating into a ludicrous riot of name-calling and recrimination. In the United States, our president and cabinet have better things to do than personally mediate disputes between soccer players and their coach, but I guess that's part of what makes France so, you know, French.

But now your women's team has made it all the way to the semifinals of the World Cup. Congratulations for that, though aren't you a little bit embarrassed that your players posed topless to draw attention to the sport? That seems more like something the German team might do. Oh wait, they did too (link NSFW!).

Still, I'm not here to talk down your players, who seem like a talented and charming group—and such nice skin! I want to explain why you should root for the United States anyway. First, you must acknowledge that if it weren't for us, there wouldn't even be a Women's World Cup. Great that you're finally letting French girls play soccer, but American girls have been wreaking havoc around the goalmouth for 30 years. (Who were the two best players on my youth soccer team in 1980? Julie Asher and Liza Himmelman.) We invented the women's game; we popularized it; we showed you how to play it. So pay respect.

Second, you should root for us because our team deserves it more than yours does. Sunday's quarterfinal match between the USA and Brazil exposed all the fetid nastiness of international soccer: horrible refs, opaque rules, arbitrary enforcement, injury-faking players. Yet the U.S. women overcame the farce. They inspired sports fans all over the world with their under-pressure heroics and indomitable spirit. How could you not pull for a team that triumphs in such a magnificent way? It's obvious that Fate and Justice are cheering for the stars and stripes to win this World Cup.

Your French team has had a fine little run to the semifinals, a much better streak than anyone expected, or than they really deserve. Do you really want them to stand in the way of America's Manifest Destiny? I didn't think so.

A proud graduate of the Marquis de Lafayette Elementary School,
David Plotz

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

iOS 8 Comes Out Today. Do Not Put It on Your iPhone 4S.

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.

Jurisprudence

Happy Constitution Day!

Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.

What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture

My Father Was James Brown. I Watched Him Beat My Mother. Then I Married Someone Like Him.

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 17 2014 12:02 PM Here It Is: The Flimsiest Campaign Attack Ad of 2014, Which Won’t Stop Running
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
  Life
Atlas Obscura
Sept. 17 2014 1:46 PM A Salute to Defiant Scots on the Eve of Their Possible Secession
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 17 2014 1:26 PM Hey CBS, Rihanna Is Exactly Who I Want to See on My TV Before NFL Football Games
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 17 2014 1:01 PM A Rare, Very Unusual Interview With Michael Jackson, Animated
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 12:35 PM IOS 8 Comes Out Today. Do Not Put It on Your iPhone 4S.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 17 2014 11:18 AM A Bridge Across the Sky
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.