President Donald Trump on Wednesday formally invited the U.S. women’s national soccer team to the White House, while criticizing one of the team’s co-captains, who has spoken forcefully against him during this year’s World Cup.
“Women’s soccer player, @mPinoe, just stated that she is ‘not going to the F…ing White House if we win,’” Trump wrote on Twitter, referring to an interview Megan Rapinoe gave this week. The star forward for the defending world champions had expressed doubt that Trump would invite the team to the White House if it managed to defend its title, predicting he would try to save face if the team declined, as he’s done with several other professional sports teams throughout his presidency.
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Trump alluded to those controversies on Wednesday, but insisted that aside from the NBA, “leagues and teams love coming to the White House” and said that the women’s team would still be invited no matter how the tournament shakes out, knocking Rapinoe for getting ahead of herself.
“I am a big fan of the American Team, and Women’s Soccer, but Megan should WIN first before she TALKS! Finish the job!” he said. “We haven’t yet invited Megan or the team, but I am now inviting the TEAM, win or lose.”
Visits by championship-winning sports teams to the White House have become particularly politicized during the Trump administration, and the president has yanked invitations for at least two teams after prominent athletes said they would not attend the traditionally unremarkable events.
The most recent instance came earlier this spring, when nearly every player of color on the Boston Red Sox — including the manager — skipped the team’s visit to the White House to be feted for winning the World Series last year.
Trump on Wednesday appeared to reference Rapinoe’s protests of the national anthem, reprising attacks he’s made on athletes like NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, whose kneeling during the anthem may have cost him his job and made him a divisive sports figure. According to Eight by Eight magazine, Rapinoe was the first white professional athlete to show solidarity with Kaepernick’s protests.
“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,” Trump wrote Wednesday, adding that “The USA is doing GREAT!”
Rapinoe got back-up Wednesday afternoon from teammate Ali Krieger, who ripped Trump in a tweet by referring to the more than a dozen sexual assault allegations that have been leveled against him.
“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,“ she said.
Krieger, who, like Rapinoe, is gay and an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ rights, also faulted Trump for his record on civil rights: “I don‘t support this administration nor their fight against LGBTQ+ citizens, immigrants & our most vulnerable.“