U.S. President Trump lashes out on Twitter at U.S. women's World Cup co-captain for saying she won't go to White House if team wins quadrennial competition.
United States President Donald Trump is lashing out at the U.S. Women's National Team (USWNT) co-captain Megan Rapinoe for saying she would not visit the White House if the team wins the quadrennial event.
The defending World Cup soccer team winners face France in the quarter-finals Friday.
"Psssh, I'm not going to the f**king White House," Rapinoe said in response to a question by a reporter from soccer magazine Eight by Eight over a month ago when asked if she was excited about a potential White House invite were her team to remain champions.
Rapinoe added at the time, "No. I'm not going to the White House. We're not going to be invited. I doubt it."
On Wednesday, Trump said Rapinoe was “disrespecting” the U.S. by making the statement, and for not singing the national anthem at the beginning of the team’s World Cup games, something she has made regular practice of since former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick began the custom in 2016 to bring attention to U.S. police killing black males with impunity.
"Women's soccer player, @mPinoe, just stated that she is 'not going to the F...ing White House if we win'," said the president.
"I am a big fan of the American Team, and Women's Soccer, but Megan should WIN first before she TALKS! Finish the job! We haven't yet invited Megan or the team,” the president said over his Twitter account. He then immediately invited the team. “But I am now inviting the TEAM, win or lose.”
The U.S. head of state went on: "Megan should never disrespect our Country, the White House, or our Flag, especially since so much has been done for her & the team. Be proud of the Flag that you wear. The USA is doing GREAT!"
Rapinoe does not sing the national anthem, or cover her heart with her hand during its performance.
In a May-published Yahoo Sports interview the co-captain said: "I'll probably never put my hand over my heart ... I'll probably never sing the national anthem again."
Her USWNT team mate Ali Krieger supported Rapinoe later Wednesday: "In regards to the “President’s” tweet today, I know women who you cannot control or grope anger you, but I stand by @mPinoe & will sit this one out as well. I don’t support this administration nor their fight against LGBTQ+ citizens, immigrants & our most vulnerable."
The U.S. national team won 2-0 against Sweden June 20, and 2-1 with Spain four days later, allowing them to move on to the competion's quarter finals this week. The competition's final match will be played July 7.
U.S. sports stars refusing White House invitations and Washington cancelling them on athletic figures during the Trump administration has become emblematic of political tensions around racism, class and misogyny in the country.
Last year, Trump canceled a White House invitation to Super Bowl champions, the Philadelphia Eagles, because of Kaepernick’s influential anthem protests.
He also decided not to extend a White House invitation to either of the 2018 NBA finalists, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors, after the Cavaliers' LeBron James and Warriors' Stephen Curry said they would skip the visit in the first place. The previous year, James called President Trump a “bum” for withdrawing a White House invitation to Curry.
U.S. boxing winner Andy Ruiz, who grew up in California and has family roots in Mexico, said he wanted to visit President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in the "Mexican White House if they have one" rather than Trump if he won the U.S. heavyweight championship June 1, which he later did.