A day after video surfaced of United States Women's National Team co-captain Megan Rapinoe saying she's "not going to the f--king White House," President Donald Trump scolded Rapinoe in a series of tweets Wednesday morning.
Trump tweeted that he will invite Rapinoe and her teammates to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. "win or lose," adding that Rapinoe "should never disrespect our [country], the White House, or our [flag]."
....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. The USA is doing GREAT!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 26, 2019
Rapinoe, 33, told Eight By Eight magazine in a video tweeted Tuesday that she didn't expect her team to be invited to the White House if they won the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup in France. She has been an outspoken critic of the president and faced criticism from his supporters for not singing or placing her right hand over her heart during the playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner" before World Cup matches.
She told Yahoo Sports in May that "I'll probably never put my hand over my heart" and "I'll probably never sing the national anthem again." U.S. Soccer's bylaws do not mandate either, and say that anyone "representing a Federation national team shall stand respectfully during the playing of national anthems at any event in which the Federation is represented." U.S. Soccer instituted Policy 604-1 after Rapinoe became the first white athlete to kneel during the playing of the national anthem in September 2016.
Rapinoe kneeled before a game with her club team and then for the USWNT, telling The Associated Press she did so in solidarity with then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's protest of racial inequality and social injustice.
"Being a gay American, I know what it means to look at the flag and not have it protect all of your liberties," she said at the time. "It was something small that I could do and something that I plan to keep doing in the future and hopefully spark some meaningful conversation around it. It’s important to have white people stand in support of people of color on this. We don’t need to be the leading voice, of course, but standing in support of them is something that’s really powerful.”
U.S. Soccer criticized her at the time, and enacted Policy 604-1 as a response. Trump told The Hill on Tuesday that he didn't think it was "appropriate" for Rapinoe to not put her hand over her heart during the anthem or to have knelt previously.
The president tweeted Wednesday that Rapinoe should stop doing so because "so much has been done for her [and] the team." Rapinoe is one of 28 USWNT players who have sued U.S. Soccer for "institutionalized gender discrimination" in how their team is paid and treated in comparison to the men's national team.
Although the president claimed that "leagues and teams love coming to the White House" other than the NBA, Business Insider found that 10 of 20 champions in the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, WNBA, college football and men's and women's college basketball did not go to the White House since Trump took office.
Trump tweeted in September 2017 that he disinvited the then-reigning NBA champion Warriors from the White House after Steph Curry reiterated he and his teammates did not want to go. The president did the same after the Philadelphia Eagles won their first Super Bowl in 2018 following reports that as few as two players would attend the ceremony.
Champion teams previously visited the White House beforehand, but it became routine under President Ronald Reagan. The USWNT visited with Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama after winning World Cup titles in 1991, 1999 and 2015, respectively.