President Donald Trump railed against American women’s soccer co-captain Megan Rapinoe Wednesday after the soccer star said she wouldn’t go to the White House if the national team wins the World Cup before saying that he would invite them to visit “win or lose.”
“I’m not going to the f*****g White House,” Rapinoe told a reporter for Eight by Eight, a soccer magazine, when asked Tuesday if she was excited to go to the White House if her team wins.
“No. I’m not going to the White House. We’re not gonna be invited. I doubt it,” she added. She made the comments in January for the magazine’s Women’s World Cup issue, published in late May. Video from the interview was first released last week and has gained national attention in recent days.
In a series of tweets, Trump claimed that sports teams “love coming to the White House” and attacked Rapinoe, saying she “should WIN first before she talks!”
“Finish the job!” he said.
The President then extended an invitation “win or lose” to the US national team, which is competing in the Women’s World Cup, and plays host country France on Friday.
“We haven’t yet invited Megan or the team, but I am now inviting the TEAM, win or lose. 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,” he wrote.
USA defender Ali Krieger stood by Rapinoe after Trump criticized her teammate, writing on Twitter, “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,” she added.
A spokesperson with US Soccer had no comment when reached by CNN.
Rapinoe has been outspoken about social justice issues. In 2016, she was among the first white professional athletes to show solidarity with football player Colin Kaepernick when media first began reporting on his kneeling during the national anthem. Rapinoe knelt during a game a month after it was first noticed that Kaepernick was kneeling.
She is also one of 28 players suing the United States Soccer Federation, alleging the men’s national team earns more than they do even though they play more games and win more matches.
Earlier this week during an Oval Office interview with The Hill, Trump said he doesn’t think it’s appropriate for Rapinoe to protest during the national anthem.
It’s unclear whether the team will accept the President’s invitation, but it’s hardly the first time the President has sparred with politically active athletes.
Other professional athletes have skipped out on invitations by Trump to visit the White House to celebrate recent wins, including the Boston Red Sox’ manager Alex Cora and MVP Mookie Betts, among others, during the team’s visit last month celebrating their World Series victory and Washington Capitals’ Braden Holtby following the team’s 2018 Stanley Cup win. The White House canceled the Philadelphia Eagles’ visit after the Super Bowl in 2018 when it became clear only a small number of players were going to attend. And the 2018 NBA champion Golden State Warriors spent time with former President Barack Obama during their trip to Washington instead of a White House visit this year.