Are the USWNT being unfairly criticized for their sportsmanship? Is it sexist?

SoxFanInCali

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There was a lot of talk how the US men got more for making the round of 16 than the women did for winning the tournament, but those actually weren't player bonuses, they were what US Soccer received from FIFA.

Those were obviously higher for the men because the available pool of cash from the men's tournament is infinitely higher.
 

InstaFace

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I think this criticism, of this team, after this game, is inherently sexist. I do not think that this criticism would be happening at the highest level of any men's sport.
Wait, which criticism? Do you mean the criticism of the celebrations that we're reading throughout this thread, in (what is now) posts 1, 2, 3, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16, 18, 19, 20 21, 22, 25, 29, and 30. The only person who tepidly criticized the scoring was DrewDawg in post 5, and he argued against himself in that same post, started coming around by post 9, and then decided it was actually fine on post 27. Other than him, "this criticism" is a criticism of their celebrating, which is a matter of sportsmanship that we see discussed in blowouts all over the sporting universe. Or ReggieCleveland in #24, who called the team "insufferable".

But that's 17 posts talking about the celebrating, compared to maaaaybe 1 who was upset with their general choice to continue the beat-down. Even a casual skim of the thread would have made that clear to someone interested in what other posters were writing here.

And yet...
I've had this discussion today with a large group of my college basketball teams' alumnae, and out of about 25 of us in the chat, there's only 1 who thinks they should have held back, at 10 goals. If this happened in the men's WC, say for example, Germany vs. any developing nation that was in their 1st Cup appearance, and Germany dropped a 13 spot on said nation, no one would EXPECT that the men should have pulled back. No one.
You saw the post about how Germany tried as hard as they could to beat Brazil down, but toned down the celebrations once it got completely out of hand, right? And that was in the semifinal.

Nobody expects everyone to be as toned-down in general as the Germans, but we're discussing examples of teams explicitly not holding back on the scoring, but holding back on the celebrating thereof. Hence hypotheticals like DLew talking about Pulisic vs Martinique, or SFIC talking about Mo Salah vs Wrexham.

If people want to get pissy about the celebrations, fine.
THAT'S WHAT THEY'RE GETTING PISSY ABOUT! That's ALL they're getting pissy about! What are we even arguing over? With whom?

But even this, I think, is about an ingrained idea that women are "nicer" than that, and should feel badly for their opponent when kicking their ass on the field at this level.
No one has that idea, ingrained or otherwise. At least not in this thread. Find one post in this thread that suggests otherwise.

Women aren't supposed to be this ruthless. Obviously many of you disagree. But then, none of you walk around in this world as a woman, I don't think.
Look, if you're going to come in casually tossing insults around to an entire thread's worth of people, many of whom have taken time to carefully draw out nuanced thoughts or add contextual examples, it might help to first (A) read the thread, (B) understand what people are actually saying, and then (C) take issue with what people actually post, rather than just decide what you think others think and then criticize that caricature.

You've piled on the insults here from your very first post, which is fine if your points are connecting (e.g. MDJ administered some legendary verbal beat-downs in V&N on very similar subjects). But if you're starting from a completely wrong supposition about what others are saying (and which they TOLD you in posts 29 and 30, and you continued on with this stuff unabated), then at some point the continued name-calling does nothing except prevent any possibility of an interesting discussion.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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I think this criticism, of this team, after this game, is inherently sexist. I do not think that this criticism would be happening at the highest level of any men's sport. If it did, it would be much less intense, and much more based on the laundry.
I didn't post in this thread because honestly I wasn't sure what to say but this issue hits home to me because my 8 year old son the other day was on the losing end of a 15-0 beatdown when the other team of 8 year olds was dancing after their last three goals. I told my son that if I were the coach on the other side, I would have yanked those kids off the field and played 4 on 7 or something like that.

But OTOH, I get it. This is sports at the highest level and people are paid to compete.

At any rate, I do want to take issue with this. I can't really cite examples but we do talk about what to do in blowouts in men's sports, particularly college basketball and college football. It's harder with pro sports because the second string players are really really good but we've all heard coaches talk about teams that are blitzing up 50-0 or throwing alley-oops when the game is out of hand. This is an issue of sportspersonship, not one of gender IMO and one that is discussed constantly.

Just getting back to my anecdote, my point to my son is that while you have to respect the game, you also have to respect to other team as persons. They are not just objects out there trying to prevent him from getting to a goal. And true, while it is the losing team's duty to stop a winning team from celebrating, it's also IMO the winning team's duty to recognize that it's just a game and sometimes the things that transcend the game are more important than just having fun.

At any rate, this isn't a hill I want to die on and certainly I told my son that if he is ever on the other side of a blowout he can remember what it was like to be on the losing side and keep that in mind while he comports himself on the field.

Just my $.02.
 
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Cellar-Door

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I think there is a combination of some sexist people, and some not, on each of the two issues.

On score:
Plenty of Sexists on one part
People who don't really understand the WWC and GD, these are the people who complain about blowouts in college football as well.

On Celebrations:
Some sexists
Some people who 100% would say the same about men's teams. There is a pretty long history of criticizing men's players for celebrations that are considered "excessive" especially when playing lesser opponents or in blowouts. In fact, not doing major celebrations when you are blowing a team out is pretty common in men's soccer, Germany v. Brazil is a WC example, basically any game San Marino is involved in is another.

On the goals I don't think there is a good argument for stopping scoring. On celebrations... I think there is a good argument that it's poor sportsmanship, and that it isn't in keeping with what is generally accepted in the sport (men and women), now maybe you can argue that it's like baseball players who get upset about over-the-top bat flips etc, but I don't think most of the legit critics who cover soccer for a living, (Twellman, Rustad) have any sexist agenda.
 

BCsMightyJoeYoung

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Regarding the sexist aspect of the controversy I’m sure their is quite a bit on display. That being said, as has been mentioned upthread, international soccer - both women and men - has historically had an unwritten agreement about avoiding excessive celebrations in blowouts. These summer tournaments are especially prone to lop sided matches. The FIFA GD rule being a major contributor.

I personally found the American team’s behaviour completely classless and showed them as arrogant jerks. Just a complete lack of respect for their opponents. I would have said the same if a Canadian team had exhibited the same behaviour.

At least this cemented my rooting interest in this tournament.
 

Montana Fan

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I don't follow USWNT nor the USMNT but I liken the excessive celebration to an early round in a tennis tournament where Serena or Nadal is beating some nobody 6-0, 4-0 and celebrates an ace with a full on Cap'n Jetes fist pump. It's this action that is unseemly in any sport by either sex. The 13-0 win is not. Care to argue? I defer to Walter Payton.
 

SoxFanInCali

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Except almost everyone here that criticized the celebrations wants the US to win.

But hey, nice Hot Take.
 

The Allented Mr Ripley

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Well, priz did manage to work in the phrase "virtue signaling" into two separate posts within the past few days, so something tells me we can expect terrific things from this poster going forward!
 

InstaFace

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I don't follow USWNT nor the USMNT but I liken the excessive celebration to an early round in a tennis tournament where Serena or Nadal is beating some nobody 6-0, 4-0 and celebrates an ace with a full on Cap'n Jetes fist pump. It's this action that is unseemly in any sport by either sex. The 13-0 win is not. Care to argue? I defer to Walter Payton.
I actually don't care for that analogy because (A) those fist pumps do happen, and (B) they're totally appropriate in a tennis context, as long as they're brief. Nadal and Serena get to 6-0, 4-0 on early-round opponents because they're more focused and amped up than their opponents, and part of that is feeling so intense about every stroke, even in the early rounds, that they may shout out on big plays. I've seen yelled "COME ON!"s, albeit less often, even in early-round blowouts.

If you want to argue the celebrations were inappropriate in soccer, I'd stick to soccer analogies, being played by soccer's unwritten rules of etiquette. From what I understand, there are countless examples of soccer teams who, once they've made it a blowout, keep celebrations very brief and modest. There are, to be sure, fewer such examples in the World Cup Finals, and that's an important piece of context that pro-celebration arguments make (this is the peak of their sport, what they've worked for their entire careers, they're gonna celebrate no matter the score - and should). And there aren't too many true blowout situations in the World Cup Finals, for either gender, just because of the level of play.

But you know what, we could use a little data, as silly as this subject is. So what other World Cup examples do we have?

Russia-Saudi Arabia 2018: The 4-0 goal (71') was celebrated fully. The 5-0 goal (90+4') was celebrated briefly but warmly.
England-Panama 2018: The 4-0 goal (40') was celebrated fully, but that was early. Harry Kane got brutally mugged at 45' and thus celebrated his PK smugly but modestly. His final goal at 62' for 6-0 was off a freak deflection that his team laughed about and hugged him over, but the celebrations were over quickly.
Belgium-Tunisia 2018: The 5-0 goal (90') was Batshuayi's first, so he celebrated intensely, but his teammates weren't too into it.
Cameroon-Croatia 2014: Mandzukic celebrated both his goals (61', 73', for 3-0 and 4-0) fully, but maybe less than full-energy.
Brazil-Cameroon 2014: Fred and Neymar went absolutely wild for the 4-1 goal (84') that clinched it
Spain-Netherlands 2014: Van Persie's 4-1 (72') got the full knee-slider, Robben's 5-1 (80') got a very joyful but briefer celebration. Though they were playing and demolishing the defending world champions in their opener.
Colombia-Japan 2014: James Rodriguez, for his 4-0 at 90', did the full Hulk Hogan hand-to-ear "I can't hear you" running-around routine
France-Switzerland 2014: Both the 4-0 (Benzema 67') and the 5-0 (Sissoko 73') got full and energetic celebrations
Germany-Portugal 2014: Muller's 4-0 (78'), for his hat trick, got brief hugs and thumbs-ups, but nothing wild.
Algeria-South Korea 2014: Brahimi's 4-0 (62') got a screaming run-around celebration
And of course, the Germany-Brazil 2014 Semifinal: Khedira's 5-0 was only at 29', it got a fairly tame but joyful celebration. There was lots of back-and-forth over the next 40' with Brazil having plenty of chances but running into a Neuer-shaped wall. Schurrle at 69' for 6-0 got hugs and smiles, but Schurrle's golazo finish at 80' for 7-0 got big fist pumps from him.
Brazil-Netherlands 2014 for the 3rd place match: Wijnaldum scored a superfluous 3-0 at 90' and ran around dancing and fist-pumping like he'd scored a winner.
Germany-Australia 2010: The 4-0 (Cacau, 70') got a knee-sliding screaming celebration.
Portugal-North Korea 2010: In a game where they got 3 goals after 80' in what was already a 4-0 match, the 5-0 at 81' got a full make-a-heart-with-your-fingers celebration, the 6-0 got only mild smiles and hugs for Ronaldo, but the 7-0 on a great header got a jump-into-your-buddy's-arms party.
(I don't have the heart to keep looking through 2010 videos)

Frankly, I'd say the reputation of Germany as toning it down is easily overstated, they barely backed off in their SF triumph. In fact, the only team that I don't think celebrated fully or near-fully at their well-more-than-needed WCF goals was England, on an excuse-me deflection for 6-0. Other than that, the men were largely fist-pumping and running around screaming with impunity, no matter the score. Now, sure, 5-0 or 6-0 isn't 12-0, but the final result isn't in doubt, either.

I went into this expecting to find a bunch of situations where the men's teams toned it down, but found the opposite. While examples are legion in league and cup play, it seems that if you're at the WCF with the world watching, you're fist pumping and running around for a goal no matter what the score is. I'm forced to reverse my previous opinion on the seemliness of the celebrations, and conclude that the USWNT is not being treated the same as men in comparable situations, and they don't deserve any crap at all for celebrating. Especially since they had plenty of sympathy and sportsmanship once the final whistle blew.
 
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SoxFanInCali

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The biggest issue I had was not that someone was excited and celebrated scoring her first goal exuberantly (like Pugh). What I thought crossed the line a little was running halfway across the field to do a clearly pre-planned goal celebration with the entire bench. These were not spontaneous moments of excitement after scoring a goal. The team was so confident that they were going to hammer Thailand that they actually rehearsed and carried out several choreographed celebrations. To me, that came across as pretty arrogant, especially from players that had been there before.

It's not a huge deal, and I'm still rooting for them heavily. I just thought they overdid it in the first game a little bit.
 
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Vinho Tinto

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I still don’t have an issue with the celebrations, but comparing the Thailand women’s national team to World Cup squads stuffed with the highest level of pros is useless. Yes , you are correct, people don’t have the same reactions to a team that loses with well compensated European club pros.

Germany does NOT have a reputation for toning it down. If given the chance, they will always gleefully go full Billy Madison playing dodge ball on a team of children. And like the American women’s team, that does not make them universally loved. Unlike the fans of the women’s team, the players have no issue playing the role of heel. I like their chances of avoiding complacency due to their embracing their dark side.

I looked up Thailand’s squad and results the day of the match. Some of the players are in college. The pros play for teams who have little info to find on a quick search. However, when given the chance they rolled Indonesia 13-0. Based on their reaction, they preferred the drubbing over mercy.
 

lars10

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I still don’t have an issue with the celebrations, but comparing the Thailand women’s national team to World Cup squads stuffed with the highest level of pros is useless. Yes , you are correct, people don’t have the same reactions to a team that loses with well compensated European club pros.

Germany does NOT have a reputation for toning it down. If given the chance, they will always gleefully go full Billy Madison playing dodge ball on a team of children. And like the American women’s team, that does not make them universally loved. Unlike the fans of the women’s team, the players have no issue playing the role of heel. I like their chances of avoiding complacency due to their embracing their dark side.

I looked up Thailand’s squad and results the day of the match. Some of the players are in college. The pros play for teams who have little info to find on a quick search. However, when given the chance they rolled Indonesia 13-0. Based on their reaction, they preferred the drubbing over mercy.
The Thai team is both clearly happy to be in the World Cup and was in awe of the US squad.

Poor sportsmanship is poor sportsmanship regardless of gender. Morgan showed zero class in celebrating her fifth goal the way she did.. at some point you respect your opponent and tone it down.

Those talking about goal differential with Sweden.. was it ever in doubt that they most likely were going to have it at 6-0 or even 7-0? A lot of this talk seems like excuse making for the team. Score at will..but maybe act like you’ve been there before...especially when your opponent is pretty much all class in not fouling you or treating you with admiration/respect after the game is over.

Edit: is there any question that if the US was getting shellacked the same way that they’d act very differently than the Thai team did?
 

DrewDawg

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Should we have smaller fields and goals in women's soccer?

...it was written by none other than Emma Hayes, the universally respected female manager of Chelsea FC’s women’s team.

“There is one obvious reason why women play on the size of pitches and goals that we see now: That is what we were given,” Hayes wrote, noting that the average height for adult females in the United Kingdom is six inches shorter than their male counterparts. “Maybe no one ever thought to question whether it makes sense.”

US fullback Crystal Dunn:

In explaining why, Dunn cited the performance of six-foot Chilean goalkeeper Christiane Endler, who single-handedly kept La Roja in Sunday’s 3-0 loss to the U.S. by making a series of top-shelf saves. With smaller goals, Dunn suggested, Endler may well have been unbeatable.
 

SoxFanInCali

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Those talking about goal differential with Sweden.. was it ever in doubt that they most likely were going to have it at 6-0 or even 7-0? A lot of this talk seems like excuse making for the team. Score at will..but maybe act like you’ve been there before...especially when your opponent is pretty much all class in not fouling you or treating you with admiration/respect after the game is over.
Well, Thailand played the US in the first game and Sweden in the second one. If the US had stopped at 6-0 or 7-0, what if Sweden went out there in their game and beat them by 8 or 9? That's why I don't have an issue with the number of goals scored, even though the Thai players were clearly gassed the last 15 minutes. As long as GD is the first tiebreaker, you can't really blame someone scoring as many as possible, especially in the first game.
 

InstaFace

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The Thai team is both clearly happy to be in the World Cup and was in awe of the US squad.

Poor sportsmanship is poor sportsmanship regardless of gender. Morgan showed zero class in celebrating her fifth goal the way she did.. at some point you respect your opponent and tone it down.

Those talking about goal differential with Sweden.. was it ever in doubt that they most likely were going to have it at 6-0 or even 7-0? A lot of this talk seems like excuse making for the team. Score at will..but maybe act like you’ve been there before...especially when your opponent is pretty much all class in not fouling you or treating you with admiration/respect after the game is over.

Edit: is there any question that if the US was getting shellacked the same way that they’d act very differently than the Thai team did?
As my post above expanded on, the bolded is simply not true for the men's teams playing at this level. On the rare occasions when the mens' teams score to put themselves up 5, 6, even 7 goals, they have full celebrations >95% of the time, even when those goals come at the very end of the game and the outcome is not even in the slightest doubt.

I don't see how you can get on the USWNT's case when that's the standards of sportsmanship under which the men's game is played. I initially thought it was disrespectful too, but checking truly equivalent examples (i.e. the World Cup) showed me otherwise.
 

The Gray Eagle

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As my post above expanded on, the bolded is simply not true for the men's teams playing at this level. On the rare occasions when the mens' teams score to put themselves up 5, 6, even 7 goals, they have full celebrations >95% of the time, even when those goals come at the very end of the game and the outcome is not even in the slightest doubt.

I don't see how you can get on the USWNT's case when that's the standards of sportsmanship under which the men's game is played. I initially thought it was disrespectful too, but checking truly equivalent examples (i.e. the World Cup) showed me otherwise.
Your comparison equates 5 goal leads with 13 goal leads, when they aren't even in the same universe, and miles away from truly equivalent examples.

That doesn't even get into the difference between a team trouncing a rival or a team at a similar level and a dominating power utterly demolishing a minnow who can't even defend themselves.
 

SocrManiac

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The team was so confident that they were going to hammer Thailand that they actually rehearsed and carried out several choreographed celebrations. To me, that came across as pretty arrogant, especially from players that had been there before.
This is bingo for me.

It's a complex issue. Part of the problem in making comparisons to the men’s game is that it’s very difficult to find comps. 13-0 doesn’t happen at the modern men’s World Cup (though the continued expansion might get us there).

The enduring image for me is the celebration after one of the late goals where the player rocked back and forth with the bench. It was too much. It was disrespectful. A fist bump, embracing teammates on the field, back slapping... Emotions tell in the moment and you don’t want to take that from any player. Choreographed routines up by ten goals with ten minutes to play? Is anybody seriously defending that? Does anybody honestly think men would be excused from criticism for such antics?

If anything, the image of Neymar going through a dance routine for his fifth goal in a Brazil 10-0 route of Hinebagalia in 2024 would get even more coverage and flak, and deservedly so. Does anybody truly think otherwise?
 

InstaFace

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If anything, the image of Neymar going through a dance routine for his fifth goal in a Brazil 10-0 route of Hinebagalia in 2024 would get even more coverage and flak, and deservedly so. Does anybody truly think otherwise?
I do now think otherwise, after watching all those world cup highlight videos for the celebrations. If it got the slightest question it'd be dismissed out of hand as the question of a Brazil hater, I'd wager. If a goal to make it 7-0 at 89' gets Portuguese players to jump into each other's arms and run around, or Arjen Robben (of all well-known poor sports) adding insult to injury in a 5-1 drubbing, and nobody said boo about either, I'd find it hard to believe that Neymar would get any crap whatsoever.

I mean, I'd like to assume that global soccer players are better sports than that, because I know that for example MLB players are (generally). But then once you consider all the other low-sportsmanship things like flopping, ref-screaming, time-wasting and other look-at-me nonsense, respect for opponents doesn't seem to be particularly prized as a soccer-culture value. I'm not saying I like the USWNT's celebrations in an objective sense, as a matter of sportsmanship, but there's I think little doubt that theirs is the typical behavior in the sport.
 

lars10

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Your comparison equates 5 goal leads with 13 goal leads, when they aren't even in the same universe, and miles away from truly equivalent examples.

That doesn't even get into the difference between a team trouncing a rival or a team at a similar level and a dominating power utterly demolishing a minnow who can't even defend themselves.
We’re also comparing goals that are much farther along in the tourney. Also.. as an example.. the fist pump at 7-0 for Germany.. compare that to running half field to do a choreographed move with the bench.. or counting how many goals you have on your hand.. some are subtle differences but other celebrations were way beyond a fist pump.

I don’t think it’s a big deal to celebrate.. I wouldn’t do it that way.. but I also think when you celebrate like that you deserve the criticism..regardless of gender. I’ve always thought you should treat the other team how you’d want to be treated.
 

SoxFanInCali

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The Men's World Cup is not really a comp. You just won't see someone so bad in the men's tourney at this point that they will lose 13-0. If the women's tournament was still 16 teams, you probably wouldn't see it here either, but at 24 teams you will until more countries put money/resources into their women's sides. Maybe when the men go to 48 teams we will see some games nearly this one-sided as well.

When I made my initial comments, I didn't compare it to a men's World Cup game because there's no game in that tournament that compares to the gulf in quality between the US and Thailand. That's why I compared it to a 3rd round FA Cup game between Liverpool and Wrexham, which better represented the relative strength of the teams, and pointed out how Liverpool would be mocked if they did coordinated celebrations when up by a dozen.

Several people have continued to talk about the Germany-Brazil semifinal. Yeah, Germany slaughtered them, but coming into the game, absolutely nobody expected the game to be that one-sided. On the other hand, every single US player and everyone watching KNEW that the US was going to easily win that game, likely by at least 6 or 7 goals. So as I said above, a genuine, spontaneous celebration from a first-time WC scorer like Mallory Pugh didn't bug me, it was coming up with pre-planned, rehearsed, choreographed celebrations and then carrying them out when up double-figures against a hopelessly overmatched side that they knew had no chance before a ball was kicked.
 

OilCanShotTupac

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The Men's World Cup is not really a comp. You just won't see someone so bad in the men's tourney at this point that they will lose 13-0. If the women's tournament was still 16 teams, you probably wouldn't see it here either, but at 24 teams you will until more countries put money/resources into their women's sides. Maybe when the men go to 48 teams we will see some games nearly this one-sided as well.

When I made my initial comments, I didn't compare it to a men's World Cup game because there's no game in that tournament that compares to the gulf in quality between the US and Thailand. That's why I compared it to a 3rd round FA Cup game between Liverpool and Wrexham, which better represented the relative strength of the teams, and pointed out how Liverpool would be mocked if they did coordinated celebrations when up by a dozen.
Spain beat Tahiti 10-0 in the group stages of the 2013 Confederation Cup. That’s a high profile competition but of course an anomaly because of the forced inclusion of an Oceania side.

Everton best fifth-tier Austrian side ATV Irdning 22-0 in a preseason friendly last year. I watched some of it. Painful. These guys were farmers and schoolteachers. The Everton goalscoresrs were embarrassed. Obviously not serious competition: