NEW YORK (AP) — American women's national soccer team forward Sydney Leroux said she was the object of a series of racist and sexist tweets in recent days and said her provocative celebration after her weekend goal against Canada was a response to the abuse.
After scoring the final goal during stoppage time in Sunday's 3-0 exhibition win at Toronto's BMO Field, the 23-year-old player raised the U.S. Soccer Federation crest on her jersey toward the crowd, then put a finger to her mouth as if to silence the fans.
Born in British Columbia, Leroux moved to the U.S. as a teenager and was taunted with chants of "Judas" during the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament at Vancouver's BC Place in January 2012. On Monday, Leroux said on Twitter: "When you chant racial slurs, taunt me and talk about my family don't be mad when I shush you and show pride in what I represent. (hash)america."
Leroux said later Monday in a statement issued through the USSF that "my tweet from this morning wasn't in response to anything from yesterday's match at BMO Field."
"In fact, the atmosphere at the stadium was a positive step forward for women's soccer. Unfortunately, the type of abuse I have received in the past and via social media for my decision to play for the United States is a step backwards. That is what prompted my response in the heat of the moment."
The USSF collected some of the offensive tweets aimed at her, which referred to her with racial and sexist slurs and called her a "scab," ''insufferable classless," and "a loser."
"I hope you die of aids," another tweet read.
"It is sad that people are inclined to write these incredibly negative comments, but I am not going to focus on them moving forward," Leroux said. "Racism has no place in our beautiful game and we all need to come together to make sure no players are subjected to this kind of treatment in stadiums or on social media anywhere in the world. That said, the majority of fans have been extremely positive and I appreciate their support."
The game was the first meeting of the teams since the semifinals of last year's London Olympics, when a controversial decision by the referee contributed to a 4-3 U.S. win. Leroux received a yellow card for Sunday's celebration.
"Maybe not the classiest of moves," Canadian captain Christine Sinclair said after the game. "She scored on us, and an individual can do what they like. I probably wouldn't have done the same, but we move on."
The Canadian Soccer Association said Monday that it not been informed of any accusations of racial abuse at the time of the tournament in Vancouver last year.
Born in May 1990 in Surrey, British Columbia, Leroux was the youngest member of Canada's team at the 2004 Under-19 World Cup. She moved to the Seattle area in 2005 and then to Scottsdale, Ariz., in 2007. She switched her soccer allegiance to the U.S. in 2008.
Leroux's father, Ray Chadwick, is black and pitched in seven games for the California Angels in 1986. Her mother, Sandi, is white and was a third baseman for Canada's softball team at the 1987 Pan American Games.