Donald Trump had tuned in to watch the American team beat Australia 4-3 to take the bronze medal

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Olympics20 – quick stats – article

Donald Trump has said USA’s women footballers missed out on a gold medal at Tokyo 2020 because the team is "headed by a radical group of leftist maniacs".

In a surprise intervention, the former president released a statement calling for the women’s team to "replace the wokesters with Patriots".

Trump had tuned in to watch the American team, who started the Games as overwhelming favourites to take gold, beat Australia 4-3 to take the bronze medal.

"If our soccer team, headed by a radical group of leftist maniacs, wasn’t woke, they would have won the gold medal instead of the bronze," a statement issued by his official office says. "Woke means you lose, everything that is woke goes bad, and our soccer team certainly has. "There were, however, a few patriots standing. Unfortunately, they need more than that respecting our country and national anthem. They should replace the wokesters with patriots and start winning again."

There was even a dig for the team’s star player, Megan Rapinoe, after she scored twice – one direct from a corner.

"The woman with the purple hair played terribly and spends too much time thinking about Radical Left politics and not doing her job," the statement added.

Megan Rapinoe scored twice – once direct from a corner – in the US's bronze-medal win over Australia

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The team had been humbled prior to Thursday’s match in a 1-0 defeat by Canada. Rapinoe had said then that the players had struggled to play with joy. “Football always needs joy,” she said.

Pro-Trump conservatives had already turned on the team via social media prior to the former president’s statement. Some singled out the players for taking the knee, as Team GB’s women have also done at these Games. It has been a poor tournament for the US, who had been looking to bounce back from a quarter-final exit at Rio 2016.

They were comfortably beaten 3-0 by Sweden in their opening match at Tokyo 2020, before making amends with a victory over New Zealand and a draw over Australia. The US then edged past the Netherlands on penalties in the quarter-finals, but their dream of a gold medal ended when they lost 1-0 to Canada in the semi-finals.

Rapinoe, who describes herself as "unapologetic" for speaking out over political issues, has a history of Twitter clashes with Trump prior to his account being suspended amid his meltdown after losing the election. The USA team has previously won four World Cups and four Olympic gold medals. Rapinoe famously sparked an angry response from the then president at a victory parade in which she yelled: “I deserve this!” Trump then tweeted a series of messages that praised the team, while accusing her of disrespecting “our Country, the White House [and] our Flag”. Rapinoe has previously described his outbursts as "ridiculous and absurd".