In the face of criticism for comments made off the field, United States Women’s National Team winger Megan Rapinoe has delivered on it at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.
The 33-year-old became a cable-news talking point a week ago Wednesday, when, in a series of tweets, President Donald Trump scolded Rapinoe for her pre-tournament comments saying she’s “not going to the f---king White House.”
Rapinoe, who is openly gay and became the first white athlete to kneel in solidarity during the national anthem with Colin Kaepernick’s protest in 2016, stood by the rebuke a day later. Two days after the President's tweets, she scored a brace in the USWNT’s 2-1 win over the host nation in the quarterfinals.
She has remained a political target in part because of those comments, and because she doesn’t hold her hand over heart or sing during the playing of the national anthem. When Rapinoe was asked in Lyon on Wednesday about critics who consider her anti-American, she disagreed in a thoughtful response.
Although her critics have argued she has been a distraction to the team, her teammates and coaches continue to insist otherwise. The USWNT is by no means a sociocultural monolith, as Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel noted in a Wednesday column, yet they have had Rapinoe’s back throughout the tournament.
"We all support Megan," Ellis said last week (via ESPN). "She knows that. We know we have each other's backs in there. I think for our players, there is only one purpose, one mission that we're here. Comments, media, whatever, it's always been something that I think we can block out pretty easily."
Rapinoe is second on the USWNT -- and tied for third in the tournament -- with five goals. She did not play in Tuesday’s 2-1 win over England in the semifinals, telling reporters after the match that she had a minor hamstring injury. She said she expects to be fit for Sunday’s final in Lyon.