Will Cain on Fox News in 2021. Will Cain on Fox News in 2021. (FoxNews.com)

The U.S. women’s national team’s exit from the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in a Round of 16 shootout loss against Sweden Sunday sparked a lot of discussion. Some of that was strictly about on-pitch matters, including criticism of players Megan Rapinoe, Sophia Smith and Kelley O’Hara (who all missed penalty kicks) and coach Vlatko Andonovski. Some of it, though, was criticism of the team and its players for various off-the-field stances, from the debate about players standing for the national anthem through comments players like Rapinoe (in particular) have made about transgender athletes’ participation in sports, equal pay, and more. And former ESPN personality Will Cain, who now works for Fox News as a co-host of the weekend edition of Fox and Friends, had one of the most vehement takes there:

The full text of Cain’s tweet:

“I always pull for Team USA. All sports. And I really don’t take joy in the earliest elimination ever for the USWNT.”

“But this team came to be defined by arrogant celebrity activists who went out of their way to exhibit shame in the US, begin the process of destroying their own sport (advocating for men to play women’s sports) and curry victimization with false narratives about equal pay. Nobody made it harder to root for them than the USWNT.”

“There are women on this team who have poured their heart and soul and sweat into this team for the US. Who are proud Americans focused on soccer. I hope those players define the future of the USWNT.”

Cain sent two other tweets criticizing the USWNT and Rapinoe in particular before that:

Of course, Cain is far from the only person to express sentiments along those lines, or the only media personality. But his commentary stands out for him being at least a former sports analyst who’s now bashing athletes for off-the-field stances and claiming those stances are what’s behind poor on-field results. (And for him working at the same company as the U.S. broadcaster of the World Cup, albeit in a rather different division.)

Cain has long discussed his own conservative political stances. And he recently said he didn’t feel “stifled” at ESPN. He definitely offered plenty of controversial takes on athletes and other sports figures during his time there, too, and has continued to do so since heading to Fox in 2020.

But this take still stood out for its language, especially with “arrogant celebrity athletes who went out of their way to exhibit shame in the US,” and for its particular discussion of players like Rapinoe’s stances on ongoing sports issues including transgender athlete participation and equal pay. And Cain certainly drew notice with it. As of 4:45 p.m. Eastern, six hours after it was posted, his main tweet here had more than 1,000 replies and comments, more than 2,400 retweets, and almost 20,000 likes, with his “Won an ESPY. Lost the World Cup.” tweet also drawing more than 12,000 likes.

[Will Cain on Twitter; image from a 2021 Cain Fox News appearance, via FoxNews.com]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.